Review: (4.25 / 5) The Rite is a 2011 film staring Anthony Hopkins, directed by Mikael Hafstrom. It’s loosely based on the book written by Matt Baglio, The Rite: The Making of a Modern Exorcist. Like many, I read the book first, then watched the film. I’ll say that the film is everything I expected the book to be, hence the reason I scored the film higher.
The Rite movie follows the story of Baglio’s novel, however several things have changed. For example, Baglio’s character is played by a female journalist, Angeline (Alice Braga), and Fr. Gary Thomas, who I believe to be in his late forties is portrayed as a young seminarian, Michael Kovak (Colin O’Donoghue).
A few things disappoint me with the movie. First, I feel the change to a young priest took away from Dr. Gary’s real journey. The second is Angeline’s character. I truly don’t see the relevance of her in the story. Last, the final act is a little cliché with Kovak realizing his calling to close out the film. Anthony Hopkins did a phenomenal job playing the roll of Father Lucas Trevant, the priest (Fr. Carmine) who trained Fr. Gary in real life.
In the movie, Kovak seeks to escape his future as a mortician, and attends seminary to become a Catholic priest. He has a change of heart, but learns that the university has the right to convert his scholarship to a student loan. It’s then that he continues his journey to priesthood, and is sent to the Vatican to complete coursework to become an exorcist.
In Rome, Kovak meets a young journalist, Angeline, who is conducting research on exorcisms. Kovak works with Fr. Lucas who performs exorcisms, but advises Dr. Lucas that he believes the individuals instead have psychological issues. Kovak decides to share with Angeline what he has witnessed so that she can write her story. It’s then that Kovak experiences unexplained incidents that lead him to doubt his beliefs of Satan.
**********************SPOILER ALERT ***************************
Kovak seeks out Fr. Lucas, only to discover that his mentor has become possessed. Kovak lacks the faith needed to effectively cast away the demons, and is losing the battle to Satan and cleanse Fr. Lucas. Like most stories where the hero comes to save the day, Kovak has an epiphany and then believes! He battles the demons inside Fr. Lucas, and after a lengthy exorcism, defeats Satan and frees the Lucas of possession. The movie concludes with a now, Fr. Michael Kovak in his parish giving the Sacrament of Reconciliation.