Reviewed by: Mike Perschon
Starring: Patricia Arquette, Gabriel Byrne, Jonathan Pryce, Nia Long, Rade Serbedgia | Directed by Rupert Wainwright | Produced by Frank Mancuso, Jr. | Written by Tom Lazarus, Rick Ramage | Distributed by MGM
Editor’s Note: “Stigmata” is a mixed bag that brings out quite opposing views amongst Christians. For a look at both sides, I have included two opposing viewpoints in this review.
As a pastor, I went to “Stigmata” out of a proactive approach I have had with movies dealing with religious themes ever since “Seventh Sign” starring Demi Moore was released. I believe that, if you don’t know what the movie is about, you won’t be able to comment intelligently on it, right or wrong. After “Stigmata” received such a powerful response at the box office, I figured I ought to check it out.
I went with the expectation of being very offended from a Christian standpoint, but instead was quite impressed by the main theme of the film, which echoes Jesus' words from Luke 17:21 concerning the Kingdom of Heaven being “within you.” (NIV)
“Stigmata” is about a hairdresser named Paige who, although she is a self-proclaimed atheist, begins to manifest stigmata, the wounds of Christ. A priest whose job is essentially to debunk miracles is sent to investigate her condition, discovering the validity of her situation, as well as a cover up by the Vatican to suppress a new gospel which has been found and translated. I won’t give away the surprises, although I will say that this movie has more to do with Heaven than Hell. The ads which claim it “will scare the hell into you” are working on hype, not accuracy.
This film is not a fantastic one, but it would make a great conversation starter among non-believers. I don’t recommend it for the weak of stomach, since there is a copious amount of blood due to the Stigmatic wounds. There is a fair amount of bad language, some shadow sex (meaning in the dark and not full frontal), a depiction of the night club scene (including the proposal of sex made by a prostitute to the priest) and, as I’ve already mentioned, some disturbing scenes involving the Stigmata.
I would say go and check it out if you have friends who already have or who are planning to. I also recommend it to pastors looking for good visual parables, as there at least two scenes worthy of working off of for a sermon… the first concerning the priest’s reasons for leaving the scientific community, and the other being what the new gospel says and why it is so dangerous.