Directed by Rupert Wainwright
Running Time: 1:41
Rated R for intense violent sequences, language and some sexuality.

I had a feeling from the first trailer I ever saw for Stigmata that the movie was going to be crappy. And for the most part it was. It managed to redeem itself somewhat with a good ending, but for the most part, it was a little full of itself.

Patricia Arquette plays Frankie Paige, a woman who is a self-proclaimed athiest. One day, after receiving a package from her mother in Brazil, she starts to get the marks of the Stigmata. When a person gets the marks, they receive the same wounds that Jesus did on the cross, namely the 5 wounds of the hands, the feet, the head, the back and the side. But only the most religious people usually receive the marks, and Frankie is far from religious. Her marks are unexplainable. The Vatican has a department that goes out to explore and investigate people who report seeing signs from God. Father Andrew (Gabriel Byrne) is assigned to meet with Frankie. He too can not explain the Stigmata but knows that unless he can figure out why this is happening to her, she will die.

Stigmata had the look of a futuristic sci-fi film. It was always raining, strange lighting, and lots of quick cuts. There were a lot of double exposure shots, voices and hallucinations and people screaming. It was too much. Frankie gets this haunted rosary and immediately stats getting the marks of the Stigmata. That's fine. But then the movie gets bogged down. There are too many starts and stops. Things start to happen, Frankie gets possessed by a strange spirit, and then out of nowhere it stops. This happens way too much. You start to feel like they're finally getting to the point, and then... nothing. It was only within the last 15 minutes that things started to pick up. Once the reasoning is explained and we see the true nature of the Vatican, things get interesting, leading to an explosive ending. But before that I kept thinking, just get to the damn point.

With a movie like The Sixth Sense, I felt somewhat the same way. But with that surprise ending, I understood why it was made the way it was. With Stigmata, there was no need to keep building up suspense only to let you down. Things could have been explained as the movie went along, rather than waiting to the end to throw everything at you. And how that rosary ended up playing a part in the Stigmata happening to Frankie was never really talked about. I wish that they had cut down on the quick edits and actually told a story. I wish that they had decided that this story was able to carry the movie, and not felt the need to throw in a lot of effects that took away from the film. I think the story was a good one, especially, once again, when everything was finally explained. But in this day and age it seems that MTV-style editing and special effects carry the day.

Overall I found Stigmata to be a tease. It would bring you to the edge and then all of a sudden stop. It was only the last 15 minutes or so that made it worthwhile at all. I would suggest waiting until video to see this.

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Text Version

© 1999 Wolfpack Productions

Reviewed 9/12/99