Cons: Not well thought out
In case you didn't know, "Stigmata" are the wounds that the Catholic church believes appeared spontaneously on St. Francis of Assisi (13th century) that mimicked the wounds inflicted on Christ at his torture and crucifixion. There were five areas affected by the wounds - hands, feet, head, back, and chest. These were supposed to be related to the nailing, of course, the crowning with thorns, the flogging, and the final spear thrust into the heart.
I bought this DVD several years ago and watched it about three or four times over the intervening years. I had never really been moved to write down my thoughts but finally decided to take a stab (joke) at it.
This film by Rupert Wainwright, takes the paint by numbers approach into Exorcist territory that is frankly unsatisfying, even though protagonist Patricia Arquette is cute as a button and she has support from the likes of Gabriel Byrne the movie comes off as empty and unconvincing.
The opening shows Gabriel Byrne, a Vatican priest, investigating a statue that bleeds. He is an investigator for the Catholic equivalent of the CIA, typically sent to disprove miracles, or seize the evidence and take it back to the Vatican if they are unsure.
Frankie (Patricia Arquette) is a young blue collar chick in Pittsburgh who dresses hair. She has been given a crucifix by her globe trotting mom who mails it back to her. This is a bit disconcerting as when Frankie really, really needs her mom (later on), she is still out making like one of the jet setters, even though they have cell phone contact.
Anyway, soon after receiving the crucifix, Frankie receives through and through wounds on her wrists, along with a lot of special effects like reverse water drips that tell you something special is happening.
Fr. Kiernan (Byrne) is sent down by the Vatican in response to a newspaper article that shows Frankie getting the lash marks on the subway to see if it is real. He thinks she is not getting stigmata but later witnesses her getting the gouge marks on her head as if a crown of thorns were jammed onto it.
The same thing happens over and over and it's full of cheesy special effects, chattering cuts, bluish tint, surround sound, and no real good underlying story. The ending leaves you with no resolution and feeling like you missed something.
Jonathan Pryce (Glengarry Glen Ross) gives the best performance in the movie as the sinister Vatican leader who determines to advance the Catholic religion at the cost of truth on every occasion. Aha! cry the easily led, who always seem to see such a well creased villain at the bottom of every major organization.
So, when a cliched minor character like the sinister Vatican guy gets top nod as a well played part you can imagine how lousy the performances from both Patricia Arquette and Gabriel Byrne were. Neither had much conviction and you might say Byrne phoned his performance in and you would not be wrong.
The MGM DVD is presented in color, in 2.35:1 theatrical format, and lasting 103 minutes. A full length commentary is provided where Rupert Wainwright slaps himself on the back
in between explaining all the story elements that he failed to depict in the movie.
Stigmata can be safely missed