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Stigmata (1999)

September. 10,1999
| Fantasy Horror Thriller

A young woman with no strong religious beliefs, Frankie Paige begins having strange and violent experiences, showing signs of the wounds that Jesus received when crucified. When the Vatican gets word of Frankie's situation, a high-ranking cardinal requests that the Rev. Andrew Kiernan investigate her case. Soon Kiernan realizes that very sinister forces are at work, and tries to rescue Frankie from the entity that is plaguing her.


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everything you have heard about this movie is true.


Crappy film


It's funny watching the elements come together in this complicated scam. On one hand, the set-up isn't quite as complex as it seems, but there's an easy sense of fun in every exchange.


One of the most extraordinary films you will see this year. Take that as you want.


This movie is somewhat garbage and too simple, the subject matter of the movie, Christianity, has nothing to do with how ridiculous the movie is. There are scenes in the movie that is so "out-of-the-blue" with no apparent reason whatsoever for it to happen in the first place, making it cringe-worthy to watch. Is this horror? Meh.


I almost overlooked this movie the first time around, simply because I found what I now realize was essential scene-setting for the plot too much; in that the so cool characters it first introduces us to and their so cool lives were such a successful personification of the soulless, shallow Hell that is the modern world that I wrote it off initially as propaganda for that philosophy. But I was only 17 at the time and lacked the patience that this movie was asking for. If anything it's to the credit of it's creators, both seen and unseen that the movie encompassed the impact so early on to stir a visceral reaction in it's viewer.Frankie's life is one of meaningless fun and the mere thought of anything meaningful to her and her peer-group is out of the question. Frankie clearly, from the outset is not as superficial as her friends; this we see as she takes seriously the prospect of being pregnant whilst her closest friend Donna simply implies that she should get an abortion, also that the casual nature of her relationship with Steven bothers her. As the reality of the Stigmata and all it's ramifications take over her life her friends and colleagues begin to distance themselves from her. I am pleased to say about this movie that as predictable as the involvement between Frankie and the Priest was it didn't degrade the story; Frankie, despite living a shallow existence is at root a kind and what you might say "Christian" person. She gives money to people begging, she doesn't jump to the choice of abortion as a reflex action because she understands that an abortion(termination) is the taking of a life, she resents being used for sex by her lover Steven, in short, subconsciously she is deeply desiring that her life should have meaning. Into this void, in timely fashion steps Father Andrew Kiernan; the interaction between Gabriel Byrne and Patricia Arquette really gives strength to the story for many reasons. One being the excellent chemistry between the two. He incites in her faith as she leads him into temptation. He is a stranger to her who displays genuine compassion when she is someone with many friends who all distance themselves from her as she begins to need them deeply. Underwriting this also is the fact that despite an age gap the prospect of a relationship between the two isn't a ridiculous thing to suggest, partly because the actors in question work well to convince us of it. Gabriel Byrne's character of Father Andrew Kiernan also helps us to see why he is so incongruous to the Priesthood in that he is too genuinely Christian to represent the Vatican. Practising real Christian values such as going out and associating with prostitutes without being judgmental or not feeling threatened by the possibility of the Vatican or organized church in general losing their monopoly on God.The Film's overall message of how Faith can exist in a world that seems determined to destroy it is a satisfying one. One might even say that the scenes of the extreme banal(a contradiction I realize) on which the film opens, but extremes, as terrible as they might be do nonetheless allow us to see if not what a thing is then at least what it is not and that Evil, if it is real(I think it is),would definitely harness Banality and Neutrality because at it's heart the Right decision isn't always an obvious one and that to do the Right thing we must take the chance of doing the Wrong thing and that the worst thing to do is acquiesce and fail to take part.


Father Andrew Kiernan (Gabriel Byrne) is in southern Brazil to investigate a bleeding Madonna statue. He wants to do more investigating but his superior rejects him. In America, Frankie Paige (Patricia Arquette) is a single alternative hairdresser attacked by an invisible force giving her the signs of stigmata. She gets attacked again on the subway which comes to the attention of Kiernan.I love the brooding rain-soaked Gothic atmosphere at first but the movie goes nowhere. It's not scary for one minute. It's a lot of religious hogwash. It starts off with interesting tension but slowly fades away. Her attacks are slow-motion, pounding and repetitive. After the third time, I lose interest and it slowly grinds to a halt. It becomes another possession horror without anything new or interesting.


There's much going on in this Horror Movie, maybe too much. In its effort to make a scary, Mystic, Religio/Politico Film it becomes a bit muddled and ambiguous. The best parts being the Vatican cover-up of Ancient Documents Damming the Church and their efforts, and at all costs, to keep things hush-hush.It is, if anything, a stylish affair of the Soul, Beliefs and Dogma intertwined with Possession, of sorts, and something about Faith and lack thereof. This is quite a bit to handle and it is obvious that the Style overcomes the Substance as things unfold.The Movie is not without its energy and some of what comes through about Ancient Mysteries, Languages, and Saints is intriguing. But there is just too much going on here and things tend to get purged of their importance, or for that matter, their meaning.It is partly effective and has its Charm, is high on razzle-dazzle, and in the end becomes just too leaden and that keeps it from attaining its destination of predetermined lofty heights.