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Movie Reviews

Stigmata  

Cast
Frankie Paige (Patricia Arquette)
Andrew Kiernan (Gabriel Byrne)
Cardinal Houseman (Jonathan Pryce)
Donna (Nia Long)
Jennifer (Portia de Rossi)
Steven (Patrick Muldoon)
Directed by Rupert Wainwright Written by Tom Lazarus and Rick Ramage
Rated R for intense violent sequences, language, brief nudity, and sexuality Running Time: 102 minutes Distributed by MGM

 

Stigmata is an overly directed and lost film. Frankie Paige (Arquette) is a young and wild atheist hairdresser in Pittsburgh. After receiving a dead priest's rosary as a gift from her mother, who was vacationing in Rio de Janiero, Frankie's life changes. Brutal attacks by an unseen assaultant begin to take their toll on Frankie. A Vatican Cardinal (Pryce) sends Father Andrew Kiernan (Byrne) to investigate. Right from the first encounters, Andrew and Frankie spark. Upon witnessing some of the violent assaults and unexplainable possessions, Andrew tells Frankie she has the Stigmata. This is when very holy Christian people are faced with the same five brutal wounds that were given to Jesus during his crucifixion. As Andrew and Frankie begin to get closer and closer, Andrew becomes more concerned with saving her life, than researching her actions and following her demands.

Stigmata is filmed in a medium that it should not be in. The film was advertised as a scary thriller, with relations to The Exorcist. This story is not suppose to be scary, it is suppose to be at some moments thrilling and dramatic. However, this film gets so quick and noisy that it just fades away from being a good film.

Stigmata was under the direction of Rupert Wainwright. Stigmata is Wainwright's first feature film after previously directing music videos. Music videos are probably what Wainwright should have stuck with. He developed Stigmata totally like a loud rock music video. There are too many repetitious quick cuts and annoying symbolic elements. Wainwright uses over 10 shots of water dripping at some point in Stigmata. He also filters in many shots of pigeons, candles, and crucifixes. Wainwright should have just calmed down a little bit from the entire alternative and crazy direction and taken a modest and simple approach to Stigmata.

As I said before the music in the film is very heavy and becomes very irritating. The score to the film is even annoying, it is techno music, in which neither the music nor the score contributes to the film. The composer and soundtrack producers should go do some work on a sequel to Spawn instead of this film.

The acting in the film is effective. Patricia Arquette is pretty strong as the sacrificial Frankie. Gabriel Byrne is outstanding, as always, as Father Andrew Kiernan. In addition to these two lead performers, veteran actor Jonathan Pryce, who plays the mysterious Cardinal Houseman, delivers a steady performance.

The script for Stigmata becomes irrelevant and unreliable. The character development is the strength of the script, but the actions developed are thrown in the story. Why develop a romantic tension between Frankie and Andrew? His job is to investigate for the Catholic Church, not to fall in love with a person that is totally against what he believes in. I guess the writers were shooting for the opposites attract theme, but it just doesn't work in Stigmata.

Overall, Stigmata became an irritating film, full of too much symbolism and very weak direction. It is like watching a music video for nearly two hours.

Report Card Grade: D

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