THE RITE is serious about exorcism and that surprised me. I guess I was expecting an exploitation film. This is Bill Kurtis speaking for Roger Ebert.
The movie is based on a true story of a California priest named Gary Thomas who was sent to study exorcism at the Vatican. He's not very impressed by the classes so he's sent to meet an actual exorcist.
>> The interesting thing about skeptics, atheists is they are always looking for proof, certainty. The question is what on earth do we do if we find it?
>> Oh, yes the time is in my experience a total loss of faith, days, months when I don't know if I believe in God or the devil.
That's Anthony Hopkins, an old hand in the fight against demonic possession, and Colin Donohue, as the young American priest. He meets Alice Braga, a journalist who is writing about exorcism.
>> I know you saw father Lucas today.
>> You're asking me to spy.
>> No just report your own experiences. Listen. I'm just interested in the truth. It seems like you are too.
Hopkins is down to earth in his approach. The young priest has his doubts and talks with his Vatican superior.
>> It's not uncommon to be overly concerned for the subject in one's exorcism you have to see that it is the demon that's in pain. Trust me. Father Lucas gets results.
The two priests argue about the proper course of action.
>> But the voice inside her, that wasn't the human voice, though, was it? You be careful, Michael.
>> Choosing not to believe in the devil won't protect you from him.
There's a lot of screaming and thrashing and flopping in THE RITE, which is what we expect in movies about satanic possession. What I didn't expect is how convincing the characters were, especially Anthony Hopkins's older priest. The director, Michael Hefstrom, uses Hungarian interiors to convincingly double for the Vatican, and solemn cinematography to give weight to his story. THE RITE isn't as good as THE EXORCIST, but it has a power of its own.