Stigmata

An atheist in Pittsburgh spontaneously bleeds from her wrists, and halfway around the world, someone at the Vatican is getting very, very nervous. Exactly why is the mystery at the heart of this interesting twist on The Exorcist from British director Rupert Wainwright, but it's just half the fun. The other half is the film's funky style, funkier soundtrack...read more

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Reviewed by Ken Fox
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An atheist in Pittsburgh spontaneously bleeds from her wrists, and halfway around the world, someone at the Vatican is getting very, very nervous. Exactly why is the mystery at the heart of this interesting twist on The Exorcist from

British director Rupert Wainwright, but it's just half the fun. The other half is the film's funky style, funkier soundtrack (courtesy Billy Corgan of Smashing Pumpkins) and wild performance from Patricia Arquette. Soon after receiving a rosary sent from a remote Brazilian village by her

globe-trotting mother, 23-year-old hairdresser Frankie Paige (Arquette) is rushed to the emergency room, her body wracked by spasms and both wrists pierced by identical puncture wounds. The doctors figure botched suicide attempt, but when Frankie returns a short time later with mysterious

lacerations to her back, she has witnesses, including a Catholic priest, who swear she didn't injure herself. The priest believes the wounds are stigmata, physical manifestations of the wounds Christ suffered during crucifixion. Word of the apparent miracle quickly reaches Rome, and a Jesuit

investigator of miracles Father Andrew Kiernan (Gabriel Byrne) is dispatched to Pittsburgh. What he sees astounds him, but when Frankie begins reciting phrases in a long-dead language and scrawling a mysterious text on the walls of her apartment, Father Kiernan begins to suspect Frankie is the

subject of an even darker phenomenon. Wainwright, who directed last year's THE SADNESS OF SEX, got his start in commercials and music video, and it shows: This film is filled with short, rapid-fire takes, edited to a pulsating beat and punctuated with blasts of noise. And the style suits the often

violent material, as well as Arquette's remarkable physical performance; both hit with a visceral punch that conveys the agony and a bit of the ecstasy of mystical experience. Touched By an Angel this ain't.

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  • Released: 1999
  • Rating: R
  • Review: An atheist in Pittsburgh spontaneously bleeds from her wrists, and halfway around the world, someone at the Vatican is getting very, very nervous. Exactly why is the mystery at the heart of this interesting twist on The Exorcist from British director Rupe… (more)

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