A tall, dark-haired Sicilian beauty, Maria Grazia Cucinotta achieved international attention with her co-starring role as the sexy barmaid who catches the attention of the late Massimo Troisi in "The...
The supernatural thriller The Rite is a different kind of literary adaptation a film not “based on” or even “inspired by” a written work but rather “suggested by” one. The degree to which this fictional film adheres factually to its source material Matt Baglio’s book The Rite: The Making of an American Exorcist is anybody’s guess. Fans of The Exorcist might argue that it’s more strongly “suggested by” William Friedkin’s 1973 horror classic than anything else.
Erstwhile unknown Colin O’Donoghue in his first feature role plays Michael a seminary student sent to Rome to learn the intricacies of demonic possession. A pronounced skeptic who isn’t even sure he believes in god much less the Catholic doctrine of exorcism Michael is inclined toward the more humanistic view of the “possessed” as simply disturbed or schizophrenic individuals. What they really need he insists is not a priest but a good psychiatrist. (That belief certainly won't endear him to the Church of Scientology.)
To rid him of such malignant pragmatism Michael’s headmaster (Ciaran Hinds) ships him off to serve an apprenticeship under Father Lucas (Anthony Hopkins) a Welsh Jesuit (shorthand for “eccentric”) and practicing exorcist. Having been around the theological block a few times Lucas reacts to Michael’s unbelief with wry nonchalance (a Hopkins specialty and the film’s most appealing trait); he knows that Satan’s arguments will prove far more convincing than any he might offer.
And Satan gets to work forthwith first using a pregnant Italian girl as his vessel then incorporating other representatives of the animal kingdom tormenting Michael with horned frogs and red-eyed demon mules. At first exhibiting admirable restraint director Mikael Hafstrom eventually employs just about every weapon in his terror arsenal bombarding Michael with harrowing visions and flashbacks (he grew up in a funeral home with an undertaker father played by Rutger Hauer who had a habit of bringing his work home with him) which offer ample opportunities for cheap scares. His trump card of course is Hopkins whose character eventually becomes possessed himself thus allowing The Rite to fulfill the Lucas/Lucifer conceit we all knew was coming.
The Rite varies wildly in tone with Hafstrom seemingly unable to decide if his film is to be a moody serious-minded psychological thriller or some campy outlandish horror-comedy. By the time Father Lucas becomes possessed and the reenactment of the first great celestial battle begins the film gives itself wholly over to the latter. As channeled by Hopkins the devil comes off as a less eloquent more vulgar version of Hannibal Lecter taunting Michael with naughty words and voraciously devouring scenery. The Dark Lord as a dirty old man is something of a novel concept I suppose. Scary? Maybe a little. Creepy? Oh hell yes.
Breakthrough feature role opposite Massimo Troisi in "The Postman (Il Postino)"
Began working as a model (date approximate)
Appeared in Italian commercials
Abandoned modeling career for acting; landed first role on the TV show "Indietro tutta"
English-language debut, "A Brooklyn State of Mind"
Had featured role as the cigar girl in the James Bond thriller "The World Is Not Enough"
A tall, dark-haired Sicilian beauty, Maria Grazia Cucinotta achieved international attention with her co-starring role as the sexy barmaid who catches the attention of the late Massimo Troisi in "The Postman (Il Postino)" (1994). <p> As a teenager, the voluptuous Cucinotta began a modeling career in Milan, working during summer holidays. When she finished her education, she decided to abandon posing for the more rigorous demands of acting. She landed her first job in the Italian TV program "Indietro tutta" and continued to hone her craft in a number of small screen productions. The actress segued to the big screen in "Commandos" and had roles in a handful of other motion pictures and commercials before the success of "The Postman (Il Postino)". Although her role in that film mostly required her to look alluring and project sensuality, she succeeded admirably. She went on to appear in larger roles in films released internationally, including Alex de la Iglesia's comedy, "The Day of the Beast/El Dia de la bestia" (1995), about the coming of the Antichrist. She fared less well in some of her next ventures: delivering a too-studied performance as the lead in the amiable but lackluster comedy "The Graduates/I Laureati" (1996) and as pregnant women in both "Italiani/Italians" (also 1996) and "The Mayor/Il Sindaco" (1997). In "Bedrooms" (also 1997), Cucinotta was more relaxed as the nurse girlfriend of a night watchman in a role that allowed her to display not just her physical attributes but an unforced comic presence. Attempting to break into American films, she co-starred opposite Vincent Spano in "A Brooklyn State of Mind" as an Italian journalist who has come to America to find her father's murderer. Critics found her charming, but hampered somewhat by the English dialogue.