Stigmata (1999) – Film Review
Director: Rupert Wainwright
Starring: Patricia Arquette, Gabriel Byrne, Jonathan Pryce
By Sarah Morgan
Is it really 25 years since I saw Stigmata at Hull’s Odeon cinema? Blimey, where does the time go?
I’ve developed more wrinkles since 1999 than I care to think about, I’ve started to get the odd grey hair and things are generally moving in a southerly direction, but the film itself still looks as fresh as a daisy – albeit a rather blood-spattered one.
It’s been re-released via a smart dual format set, which includes both a Blu-ray and standard DVD version of the chiller, as well as a 24-page booklet featuring a long and informative essay about the production and its inspirations. Special features include a making-of documentary.
However, it’s the film itself that deserves the most attention. Patricia Arquette stars as Frankie Paige, a Florida-born, Pittsburgh-based, party-loving hairdresser who doesn’t seem to have a care in the world – until her mother sends her a rosary that once belonged to a mysterious priest. It’s something she picked up at a Brazilian market while on holiday, little realising its full power.
Soon afterwards, Frankie is beset by some startling occurrences, resulting in her receiving stigmata-like wounds. Doctors suspect she may have epilepsy; Father Andrew Kiernan, a special investigator for the Vatican, thinks otherwise. He’s sent to Pittsburgh to find out more about Frankie’s case, uncovering a conspiracy that could destroy the Catholic church in the process.
Arquette is sparky as Frankie, but it’s Gabriel Byrne’s quiet, thoughtful and caring priest who is the movie’s real heart and soul, the one who keeps calm while his co-stars, including Jonathan Pryce as the villain of the piece, chew the scenery somewhat.
“Highly slick production”
British director Rupert Wainwright (not to be confused with musician Rufus) delivers a highly slick production, although at times some of his stylistic flourishes – including steam-filled streets and a blazing bed – look more like something from one of the music videos or TV adverts on which he cut his teeth. Tom Lazarus and Rick Ramage’s script owes something to The Exorcist, but contains enough originality to withstand any comparisons.
Although initially released to disappointing reviews, Stigmata stands up pretty impressively. As a result, I doubt I’ll be waiting another quarter of a century to watch it again.
- 2-Disc Limited Collector's Edition Mediabook, the main film on Blu-ray and DVD and a 24-page booklet
- Audio Commentary with director Ruper Wainwright
- Holy Rites: Making of "Stigmata"
- Deleted Scenes
- Alternate Ending
- Theatrical Trailer