Michael Kovak (Colin O’Donoghue) leads himself to believe that his purpose for attending seminary is to adhere to family tradition, but the father superior’s words spoken to him and his fellow deacons from John 15:16 the same words Jesus spoke to the apostles, “You didn’t choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit,” sets the tone for Michael’s life, as it does for many who approach the work God has set for us to do, but are at times unconvinced of our ability in Him to do it, and the power or the existence in the entity or entities that oppose us, or in Michael’s case, the devil.
Michael’s lack of faith, as he perceives it, causes him to compose a letter to his father superior denoting why it would not be in the best interest of the church for him to continue his seminary education and the eventual taking of his vows to become a priest. But after a fatal accident that Michael witnesses at which he administers last rites upon request, his faith is called into question and father Matthew convinces him to give the priesthood another shot by appealing to Michael’s experience in dealing with the dead or lack of being easily made ill at ease by taking a two month exorcism course in Rome, Italy.
Michael’s journey brings him to the home of Jesuit priest and accomplished exorcist father Lucas Trevant (Anthony Hopkins) where he witnesses the ongoing demonic expulsion of the pregnant Rosaria (Marta Gastini). Father Lucas’s unorthodox methods, if you will, cause Michael to be concerned for Rosaria’s safety. He feels, Lucas, no matter how accomplished, has not rendered the proper treatment, and that not without indicating that the baby she carries is of questionable origin.
Yet it’s not until Rosaria quotes things from events in Michael’s past that she shouldn’t know that Michael’s skepticism begins to wane, but not enough for him to be convinced; he believes the continuing episodes to be no more than psychotic scenes. Even Rosaria from hence on addresses him as “doubter.”
Angeline (Alice Braga) is an attractive reporter mistaken for a nun also taking the exorcism course. She’s doing research on a topic that she along with an inquisitive outside world wants to know more about and what steps the church is taking to cure those who, like her tormented brother, felt the voices that were telling him to do things were of the devil. But unlike Michael, she, who so desperately wants one cannot get a private audience with father Trevant, she therefore asks Michael to relay what information he’s willing.
Based on a true story, “The Rite” is intelligent and entertaining and definitely worth a look. It also stars Rutger Hauer (Sin City, Blade Runner) and Toby Jones from the soon to be released film and critically acclaimed novel of the same name, “The Hunger Games” in which he stars with Jennifer Lawrence and Lenny Kravitz.