The Rite Movie Review

The Rite: Teaser poster Stars: Anthony Hopkins, Colin O’Donoghue and Alice Braga, PG-13, Released on January 28, 2011 in the United States and Canada, and on February 25, 2011 in the United Kingdom.
The Rite: The Making of
a Modern Exorcist 
by Matt Baglio
(hardcover)

The 2011 movie, The Rite, is actually loosely based on journalist Matt Baglio’s 2009 book The Rite: The Making of a Modern Exorcist. The book is itself based on real events which were witnessed and recounted by an American priest, Father Gary Thomas – who in 2005, was sent on sabbatical to Rome to become an exorcist-in-training – in order to learn and work daily with veteran exorcists within the clergy.

Fr. Thomas is a priest at the Sacred Heart Parish Church in Saratoga, California, and is also the mandated exorcist for the Diocese of San Jose. He estimates that there are somewhere between 25-50 practicing exorcists in the United States as of February, 2011. Ideally, there should an exorcist attached to every diocese in America – which would mean that the actual number of exorcists should be nearly 200. According to what I learned from watching The Rite, there are currently 14 practicing exorcists in the United States.

Since our DVD player is up and running again, we have accumulated a number of DVDs that we want to watch. Something that we noticed just as we started to watch The Rite, was that Ciarán Hinds, who was also in The Woman in Black, was in this movie as well. He played Father Xavier, a friend of Father Lucas’ and Michael Kovak’s teacher in the exorcism lecture; who sends him on to receive further instruction with Fr. Trevant. We didn’t plan to watch this movie because Ciarán Hinds was in it, but it certainly was an interesting surprise for both of us.

Anyway, we started watching the movie at about 10:30 P.M. on Thursday night – or perhaps it was closer to 10: 45 P. M. In any event, by about 12:30 A. M. or so, the movie was finished and we went directly to bed.

The Rite: The Making of
a Modern Exorcist
by Matt Baglio (paperback)

I haven’t actually read The Rite: The Making of a Modern Exorcist by Matt Baglio, although as soon as we finished watching the movie, Mareena started searching for the book. So far, she hasn’t found a copy, but has the title on two of the Wish Lists from the several swapping sites that we belong to. I certainly look forward to reading Mr. Baglio’s book some time very soon. As Fr. Thomas says: “The book is all true. There is nothing in that book that is not true.”

The Rite was released in January of 2011, and is rated PG-13. It is a horror movie that runs approximately 113 minutes. The film stars Anthony Hopkins (as Father Lucas Trevant), Colin O’Donoghue (as Michael Kovak) and Alice Braga (as Angeline Vargas). This film was directed by Mikael Håfström, and was produced by Beau Flynn and Tripp Vinson.

Who Plays Father Lucas Trevant – (The Real Capuchin Father Carmine De Filippis)

Anthony Hopkins is a Welsh actor of film, stage and television; who is also known as a composer and a painter. He was born in Port Talbot, Glamorgan, Wales to parents of half Welsh and half English extraction. His father was a baker, and the young boy much preferred immersing himself in art – such as painting and drawing, or playing the piano – to attending school and doing his schoolwork. In 1949, in order to instill discipline in their son, his parents insisted that he attend Jones’ West Monmouth Boys’ School in Pontypool, Wales where he remained for five terms. From there, young Phillip Anthony was educated at Cowbridge Grammar School in the Vale of Glamorgan, Wales.

Anthony Hopkins was influenced and encouraged to become an actor by Richard Burton (who was himself born in Port Talbot) and who Mr. Hopkins briefly met when he was fifteen years old. With an eye toward his future career, Anthony Hopkins enrolled at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama in Cardiff, from which he graduated in 1957. After serving the mandatory two years conscription in the British Army, (also known as National Service) Mr. Hopkins moved to London, where he trained at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art.

In 1960, he made his professional stage debut at the Palace Theatre, Swansea in the Swansea Little Theatre’s production of Have a Cigarette. After spending several years with repertory theater, he was discovered by Sir Laurence Olivier and invited to join the Royal National Theatre in 1965. He soon became Sir Laurence’s understudy, and filled in for him when Sir Laurence was struck with appendicitis during a production of August Strindberg’s The Dance of Death.

Despite his success at the National, Mr. Hopkins soon tired of repeating the same roles nightly and yearned to be in films. In 1967, he made his small-screen television debut in the BBC broadcast of Georges Feydeau’s play A Flea in Her Ear. Although he continued in theatre (most notably at the National Theatre), Mr. Hopkins gradually moved away from it to become more established as a film and television actor. In 1968, he made his movie debut in A Lion in Winter, playing Richard I along with Peter O’Toole, Katharine Hepburn and Timothy Dalton.

From that moment on, Mr. Hopkins experienced many successes and his remarkable acting career reached its pinnacle. Considered to be one of the greatest living actors, Mr. Hopkins is well-known for his portrayal of the charming serial-killing sociopath, Hannibal Lecter, in the 1991 film Silence of the Lambs, a role for which won him the Academy Award for Best Actor. He reprised his role as Hannibal Lecter for the movie’s 2001 sequel Hannibal, and the prequel Red Dragon in 2002. Mr. Hopkins’ other notable film credits include: The Mask of Zorro; The Bounty; Meet Joe Black; The Elephant Man; Magic; 84 Charing Cross Road; Bram Stoker’s Dracula; Legends of the Fall; Thor; The Remains of the Day; Amistad; Nixon; The World’s Fastest Indian; Instinct and Fracture.

Mr. Hopkins has also won many awards and accolades as well. Along with his Academy Award, he has also won three BAFTA Awards (the British counterpart to the Academy Awards), two Emmy Awards and the Cecil B. DeMille Award. He was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in 1993 for his services to the arts; he received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2003; and was made a fellow of the British Academy of Film and Television Arts in 2008.

Anthony Hopkins has been married a total of three times, first to actress Petronella Barker in 1966 – with whom he has one daughter named Abigail – who is also an actress, a singer/songwriter, and a theatre director. Mr. Hopkins divorced his first wife in 1972.

He went on to marry Jennifer Lynton in 1973, and was married to her for 29 years. He has confessed that his obsession with becoming an American citizen led to the break-up of his second marriage. He is quoted by Britain’s The Sun newspaper as saying: “She (Jennifer Lynton) is British through and through, and was annoyed whenever I spoke of my dream to become an American. It was a major factor in our break-up. There is still a love for life in the US that I’ve never found anywhere else.”

He married his third wife – Colombian-born actress and director, Stella Arroyave – in 2003. Stella was originally an antiques dealer when Anthony Hopkins met her, although she has since transitioned into film. Despite being married in a secluded ceremony at his cliff-top mansion in Malibu, Anthony Hopkins paid tribute to his Welsh roots by marrying on St. David’s Day (March 1st) which celebrates the patron saint of Wales. At the wedding he wore the country’s national flower, a daffodil, in his buttonhole, and the spring flower also decked out the wedding marquee and made up the bridal bouquet.

Anthony Hopkins had moved to the United States once before during the 1970s in order to pursue his film career, but returned to London in the late 1980s. However, he decided to return to the United States following his success in the 1990s. Retaining his British citizenship, he became a naturalized US citizen on April 12, 2000, and celebrated with a 3,000-mile road trip across the country. As of 2007, Anthony Hopkins resides in Los Angeles.

Who Plays Michael Kovak – (The Real Father Gary Thomas)

Colin O’Donoghue is an Irish actor and musician who was born and raised in Drogheda, County Louth. He initially attended Dundalk Grammar School and then The Gaiety School of Acting in Dublin; although at age 16, Colin went to Paris for a month to learn French.

He began acting in 2001, in the British television miniseries ‘Rebel Heart’ – starring James D’Arcy. Colin played Rowe in the first episode of the miniseries. In 2002, Colin played Norman Quested in the television movie ‘Home For Christmas’ – a role for which he won an Irish Film and Television Award For Best New Talent.

His early career was mainly split between theatre and television work in Ireland and the United Kingdom. In 2009, he appeared as Duke Phillip of Bavaria in an episode of season 3 of the Showtime series ‘The Tudors’. Colin actually made his Hollywood movie debut alongside Anthony Hopkins in the 2011 movie The Rite. He had made his audition video for The Rite in a friend’s home studio in Drogheda and sent it to the United States.

In 2012, Colin O’Donoghue joined the second season of the hit ABC series ‘Once Upon a Time’ when he was cast as Captain Hook/Killian Jones. His role originally started as a supporting character, until it was announced that Colin would be billed as a series regular beginning in the second half of the second season.

He also plays guitar and sings in a five-piece band from the east coast of Ireland. In 2003, he and a close friend Ronan McQuillan, formed the pop/rock band The Enemies – and they released their self-titled debut album in 2011. In May of 2013, he announced that he was leaving the band due to the filming schedule of ‘Once Upon a Time’.

Despite his success outside of Ireland, Colin has no plans to relocate to either Los Angeles or Vancouver, Canada where he is currently shooting ‘Once Upon a Time’. He explained, “You don’t know what circumstances are going to come up, so it’s tough to make a decision like that and move somewhere for two or three years. . .Whatever happens, Drogheda will always be my home because it is where my friends and family are.” Colin is married to Helen O’Donoghue, and on August 1, 2013 the couple’s son, Evan was born.

Who Plays Angeline Vargas – (The Real Matt Baglio)

Born in São Paulo, Brazil, Alice Braga’s exposure to the world of acting began at a young age. Both her mother, Ana Braga, and aunt, Sônia Braga, are actresses; and young Alice would often accompany them to film sets. She began her own acting career by appearing in commercials and school plays. Her first commercial was for yogurt when she was eight years old. As a teenager she began pursuing roles in television and movies. She speaks fluent Portuguese, Spanish and English.

In 1998, Alice debuted in the Portuguese-language short Trampolim, and then returned to her schooling. Her big break came in 2002, when she was cast as Angélica in the critically acclaimed film City of God – for which she received a Best Supporting Actress nomination for the Cinema Brazil Grand Prize. Alice took some more time off and attended university while appearing in two well-regarded South American films – 2005’s Lower City and 2006’s Only God Knows – and the popular Brazilian television show ‘Carandiru, Outras Historias’.

Alice Braga made her English-language movie debut in 2006, in a starring role alongside Brendan Fraser, Mos Def and Catalina Sandino Moreno in the independent film Journey to the End of Night – which premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival. In 2007, she was cast in the Will Smith blockbuster I Am Legend. Alice Braga was also cast in the 2009 independent film Crossing Over – alongside Harrison Ford, Ray Liotta and Ashley Judd; and was in the David Mamet film Redbelt in 2008 as well.

In 2010, Alice starred in the science-fiction films Repo Men and Predators; in 2013, she starred as Frey Santiago in the dystopian science fiction thriller Elysium. She is the sister of the actress and producer, Rita Moraes and the cousin of the director, Daniela Braga. Her nickname is Lili and she is an Aries.

My Review of the Movie Adaptation of Matt Baglio’s The Rite: The Making of a Modern Exorcist:

To be perfectly honest, I’ve never actually read Matt Baglio’s book – at least not yet, anyway; although I certainly have my eyes open to see whether I can obtain a copy very soon. According to Fr. Gary Thomas, around whom The Rite: The Making of a Modern Exorcist is loosely based, “The book is all true. There is nothing in that book that is not true.”

The Catholic Church does recognize demonic possession as real, and the Vatican does, in fact, offer classes on exorcism at its affiliated Pontifical Regina Apostolorum University in Rome. As a matter of fact, Fr. Gary Thomas and Matt Baglio met during one such exorcism class. As the only two Americans in attendance in the class, the men quickly became friends.

Fr. Thomas actually did seek out several exorcists to apprentice with during his nine-month sabbatical in Rome; deciding that it was not only important to learn about exorcisms, but to experience them as well. To that end, Fr. Thomas sought out and was subsequently apprenticed with Capuchin Father Carmine De Filippis; the priest on whom Anthony Hopkins’ character is based. During their time together, Fr. Thomas witnessed approximately 80 exorcisms.

As with Colin O’Donoghue’s character in the movie, Fr. Thomas worked for a time in a funeral home. While attending a funeral as a teenager, Gary was approached by one of the owners and asked if he wanted to work there part time. At the age of 14, he accepted employment and began working odd jobs at the Nauman Lincoln Roos mortuary.

While Fr. Thomas wasn’t always a man of the cloth, he has always considered it as a personal calling. After graduating from high school, he went on to study mortuary science in university and worked in the funeral home business until the age of 25 – when he enrolled at St. Patrick’s Seminary. Five years years later he became an ordained Catholic priest. Unlike Colin O’Donoghue’s character in the movie, Fr. Thomas never experienced a crisis of faith as a seminarian, and he was considerably older than Michael Kovak when he began his training in Rome (in his mid-50s).

According to Fr. Thomas, “A demon doesn’t show up. He has to be invited in. The involvement in pagan, satanic, or occult practices are the classical ways.” While somewhat less common, it is understood that others can invite them (demons) in without your participation, such as by cursing or having a past family member promise a child to the devil.

Although Fr. Thomas has never witnessed anyone vomit anything unusual during an exorcism – Father Gabriele Amorth, the Vatican’s chief exorcist, with more than 70,000 exorcisms to his name, and who was Fr. De Filippis’ own mentor – has witnessed possessed people vomit numerous foreign objects: from black nails, to shards of glass and even radio equipment parts. Fr. Carmine De Filippis was present during an exorcism where the possessed woman vomited a live black frog.

I think that the actors were perfectly cast for the roles they played. Anthony Hopkins is renowned for his dedicated preparation for roles. He has stated in interviews, that once he is committed to a project, he will go over his lines as many times as is needed (sometimes upwards of 200) until the lines sound natural to him, so that he can “do it without thinking”. This leads to an almost casual style of delivery that belies the amount of groundwork done beforehand.

This was especially evident in The Rite – in the scene where Michael Kovak returns to Fr. Lucas’ home, and finds distinct evidence of demonic possession. When Michael asks Fr. Lucas if he’s alright, the ‘presence’ claims that Fr. Lucas isn’t in residence. Anthony Hopkins sounds so perfectly reasonable and rational during their subsequent conversation, that the scene is all the more frightening when the demon does eventually show itself.

The actress who played Rosaria – Marta Gastini – was 20 years old when she was cast in The Rite, and I think she was wonderful in the part. She was so innocent-looking, that sometimes I forgot that Rosaria was actually possessed – until she contorted her body or said something particularly vile.

Overall, I would give The Rite a definite A! and I look forward to getting my hands on a copy of The Rite: The Making of a Modern Exorcist by Matt Baglio as soon as possible.

Till we Meet Again, Glow Brightly as Moonlight

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