2 March 2011
THE RITE- Review
The rubbish cleric in question is Michael, a young man who comes up with quite a flawed scheme to enrol in a seminary to study for the priesthood and gain a scholarship for a top-notch education. He plans to flout his commitment once his education is done, but doesn't realise that even the Catholic Church isn't that dumb. So with potentially crippling financial payback looming over his head, he's assigned to the eccentric Father Lucas Trevant, one of the church's veteran exorcists.
Early on in The Rite, I realised that there was more of Father Ted in here than there was of The Exorcist. That "spinning heads and pea soup" line would be fine if screenwriter Michael Petroni had anything new up his sleeve, but he has nothing we didn't see six months ago in The Last Exorcism, a superior and still rather underrated film. I could entirely enjoy a film that was Father Ted meets The Exorcist, but to be honest, the unintentional humour that kept me going in this film wasn't that funny.
It also claims to be based on true events right at the beginning, only to backtrack minutes later in the opening credits, which tells us that the film is "suggested by the book by Matt Baglio". After a raft of truly excellent films based on true stories, like The King's Speech and The Fighter, this seems poorly timed, making it tantamount to calling Donnie Darko a true story because it was "suggested" by A Brief History of Time. Here was me thinking that horror films had graduated from "based on a true story" scare-mongering, onto the less condescending model of Blair Witchery and found-footage constructions.
The major problem is the casting of Colin O'Donoghue in the role of Michael. He's no Patrick Fabian, that's for sure, and so there's not much in the way of attachment to his character. As a leading man, he's continually shown up by co-stars Toby Jones and Ciarán Hinds, which might explain why they're both relegated to parts that really could have been cut, to tighten up a film that is way too long. In particular, it's a shame to see Toby Jones doing so little, because he's a fantastic actor who disappears after the rambling and unnecessary first act.
Anthony Hopkins gets the run of the production, really. He's top-billed, and his face is on the poster, and rightly so because he's easily the best thing about this. He plays Father Lucas as a showman, but one who still believes in the battle he is fighting. It comes back to that notion of the palliative exorcism, instilling a belief in the possessed person that they are winning the battle, and to do that, Hopkins exudes the confidence of an eccentric uncle. Later in the film, he's given the opportunity to really exercise his skills as an actor. He refuses to phone it in, and this film really reminded me of what a good actor he is.
The Rite is now showing in cinemas nationwide.
If you've seen The Rite, why not share your comments below?
I'm Mark the mad prophet, and until next time, don't watch anything I wouldn't watch.