"Debating Supernatural Manifestations"
What You Need To Know:
THE EXORCISM OF EMILY ROSE is very scary and dramatically compelling. Credit must go to the talented cast and the atmospheric exposition. The scary scenes are too scary for children and young teenagers, however, but they are realistically done and don't include the kind of outlandish effects that more sensational exorcism movies contain. Also, the movie has a strong Christian worldview, in a Roman Catholic setting, but it leaves some room for doubt. Tom Wilkinson gives a powerful performance of a strong and compassionate Christian leader.
(CC, BB, H, O, L, VV, A, D, M) Strong Christian worldview in a Roman Catholic setting, with strong biblical content, mitigated somewhat by some humanist content and arguments about science and faith by the antagonist (who is a Methodist) and one of the protagonists (who is an agnostic), and exorcism patient has a vision of the Virgin Mary and receives stigmata on her hands, but a humanist explanation is offered for her wounds, as well as occult manifestations and apparitions are identified variously as demonic activity or psychotic experiences; three obscenities and three light profanities; strong, often scary violence such as demons spook people and horses, demon attacks young woman several times, many bruises on face of corpse are shown in a photo, demons possess young woman, possessed young woman jumps through window and contorts her body, car accidentally hits man in street, young woman receives bloody stigmata on her palms, and men try to hold down possessed young woman to stop her from hurting herself; no sex or nudity; alcohol use; smoking; and, anthropological and psychological explanations given for spiritual phenomena (one of which may be slightly New Age) and boss threatens to fire attorney if she uses particular defense for her client.
THE EXORCISM OF EMILY ROSE, inspired by a true story occurring in Bavaria in 1976, uses flashbacks to chronicle the death of a young woman who died during an exorcism ritual. Laura Linney stars as an ambitious, agnostic lawyer, Erin Bruner, who takes on the task of defending Father Richard Moore (Tom Wilkinson), the priest who performed the controversial exorcism.
Against her better judgment, Erin defends Father Moore by presenting evidence as if Emily Rose may have really been possessed. By doing so, however, she has to counter the medical arguments of the prosecuting attorney, played by Campbell Scott, who presents evidence that Emily Rose was actually suffering from epileptic seizures. The prosecutor argues that, when Father Moore convinced Emily Rose to stop taking a drug to stop her seizures and hallucinations, the lack of the drug just made things worse. In desperation, Erin calls Father Moore to the stand to tell Emily’s story from his own point of view.
THE EXORCISM OF EMILY ROSE is scary and dramatically compelling, despite the potentially hokey chestnut of having flashbacks at a trial be the focus of the story. Credit must go to the talented cast and the atmospheric exposition, which includes some impressive cinematography. Tom Wilkinson gives a powerful, positive portrayal of a strong, compassionate and thoughtful Christian leader. Laura Linney and Campbell Scott are also outstanding as the two lead attorneys.
The scenes of demonic possession and exorcism are too scary for impressionable moviegoers, especially children and young teenagers. The good news is that they are realistically done and don’t include the kind of outlandish effects that more sensational exorcism movies have had. Also, the movie has a strong Christian worldview, in a Roman Catholic setting. Characters quote Scripture and refer to Jesus Christ, but there are scenes involving a vision that Emily has of the Virgin Mary, who reveals an important secret to Emily and Father Moore.
Mitigating the movie’s Christian references is talk about science versus faith. Scientific, humanist explanations are offered to much of Emily’s experiences, but the movie usually does a good job of giving a solid pro-Christian interpretation. In the end, however, the defense attorney offers an emotional reason for acquitting the priest. Thus, although the movie seems to side with the Christian view of the priest, it leaves some room for doubt, especially at the end. Unlike other exorcism movies, however, THE EXORCISM OF EMILY ROSE does not give too much power to demonic forces. The movie eventually suggests that God is ultimately in control. It does so in a way, however, that will make viewers think about and discuss the issues presented in the story.