Article by Greg Wright. Media by: Charley Phillips.
If you liked The Exorcist, you will love Stigmata. Director Rupert Wainwright’s Stigmata tells the story of a possessed woman and the priest that tries to help her and in turn uncovers long hidden church secrets.
Patricia Arquette as Frankie Paige
Gabriel Byrne as Father Andrew Kiernan
Jonathan Pryce as Cardinal Daniel Houseman
Nia Long as Donna Chadway
Frankie Page is a trendy beautician who also happens to be an atheist. One morning, Frankie gets a package from her mom from South America. Inside the package lies a rosary. The rosary belonged to a former Vatican priest who was inflicted with stigmata. Frankie looks at the rosary with a nonchalant attitude and then suddenly gets sick. The night after she receives the rosary beads, Frankie and her friends are at a club having fun when all of a sudden, Frankie has a seizure and is taken to the hospital. While at the hospital, it is discovered that Frankie’s wrists have been punctured. Frankie receives wounds reminiscent to the wounds of Jesus. On a train home from work, Frankie goes into a trance and speaks and acts like somebody else. While on the train, Frankie receives the lashes like Jesus received. A priest sees the strange sight and contacts that Vatican who sends a priest, Kiernan, who also happens to be an investigator. Kiernan tells Frankie she is inflicted with stigmata. Over time, Frankie and Father Kiernan become close and Father Kiernan discovers Frankie is possessed by a retired priest, who knew the location of the lost gospel of Jesus. The Vatican wants to destroy the gospel and Frankie in order to keep the truth from coming out and potentially destroying their empire. The film ultimately ends with good defeating evil.
Wainwright’s Stigmata combines horror with religious theories that have been around and debated for years. The movie itself boasts some strong performances by Arquette, as Frankie, and Byrne, as Father Kiernan. Stigmata’s subject material might not be well received, but keep in mind the movie is based in some truth, much like The Exorcist. The pace of the movie is uneven at times and the dialogue seems a trifle absurd, but if you look past the uneven pacing and dialogue, the movie is worth watching. Patricia Arquette is the standout performer among veteran actors Gabriel Byrne and Jonathan Pryce. Gabriel Byrne gives his usual strong performance but is outshined by Arquette. The film’s cinematographer, Jeffrey L Kimball, carefully combines elements of fire, water, light, and dark. Kimball’s cinematography is a work of art because it combines opposite elements masterfully. Stigmata was nominated by the Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror films in 2000 for Best Horror film.
The Stigmata opens up a dialogue about the Bible and church doctrine in Christian and non-Christian circles . Are there books of the Bible that have been left out and why? If Jesus did write a gospel, why wasn’t it included in the Holy Bible? The movie gets viewers to talk about the church, church history, and their own faith in not only God and Jesus, but themselves. Stigmata invites the viewer to decide what defines a church and religion? Do we have to attend church in order to get into heaven? Stigmata’s reaching themes touch at the heartstrings of the faithful and doubtful.