Complete A-Z list

Rite, The


Stars: Anthony Hopkins, Colin O'Donoghue, Alice Braga, Ciaran Hinds, Marta Gastini, Rutger Hauer, Toby Jones, Maria Grazia Cucinotta, Ben Cheetham, Chris Marquette

Director: Mikael Hafström

Although he doesn't believe in the Devil, and remains unconvinced even of his calling, seminary student Michael Kovak (Irish actor O'Donoghue) is sent from American to study exorcism at the Vatican.

Sceptical of the views put forward by Fr Xavier (Hinds), Michael is packed off as apprentice to elderly Fr Lucas (Hopkins at his most civilised and calculating), who's performed more than 1000 exorcisms. These range from the real thing to those Lucas considers dubious, which he resolves with his bag of tricks, doing things like removing frogs from the mouth of the 'victim'.

Lucas is currently concerned with a heavily pregnant Italian girl (a fiercely committed peformance by Gastini), in what appears to be a genuine case of demonic possession, though Michael still has doubts. 'Choosing not to believe in the Devil,' chides Fr Lucas, 'won't protect you from him'. This, though, coming from a man who answers a call on his mobile in the middle of an exorcism, doesn't carry the weight it might.

Well, things get messy, and eventually Hopkins himself is possessed, giving the actor a chance to top off his cultured performance with an explosive firework display in the last reel.

Despite a string of carefully committed portrayals, the film lacks a degree of forward momentum, and its content is over-familiar, allowing one's attention to drift from time to time, consulting one's watch instead of the exorcist. With Irish, Welsh, Brazilian, Dutch, English, American and Italian leading players, and a Swedish director, however, it must at least be among the most cosmopolitan films of recent times.

David Quinlan

USA/Hungary/Italy 2011. UK Distributor: Warner Brothers. Colour by deluxe.
114 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 15.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 2, Drugs 0, Swearing 1.

Review date: 24 Feb 2011