“The Pope’s Exorcist” (Sony)

"The Pope's Exorcist" is a 2023 supernatural horror film starring Russell Crowe as the late Pauline Father Gabriele Amorth, a longtime exorcist for the Diocese of Rome. The film is 'inspired by' the Italian priest's memoirs. OSV News classification, L -- limited adult audience, films whose problematic content many adults would find troubling. (CNS photo/Sony Pictures Entertainment)

By OSV News

Initially promising but ultimately overheated possession tale based on books published by high-profile exorcist Pauline Father Gabriele Amorth (Russell Crowe). Summoned from Rome to attend to an American boy (Peter DeSouza-Feighoney) temporarily living in Spain who shows strong signs of being under the dominion of a demon (voice of Ralph Ineson), the cleric teams with a local priest (Daniel Zovatto) to deliver the lad. Their investigation of the case eventually leads to revelations about the past of the former abbey into which the youth’s recently widowed mother (Alex Essoe) has moved him and his sister (Laurel Marsden) while she supervises its renovation.

Crowe brings verve to his portrayal of the genial but never frivolous protagonist and screenwriters Michael Petroni and Evan Spiliotopoulos successfully make the case for taking the power of evil seriously. Yet, as directed by Julius Avery, the film eventually degenerates into a muddle, in part because extraneous elements ranging from contemporary divisions within the church to the legacy of the Spanish Inquisition are thrown into the mix and depicted ineptly.

Mature themes, disturbing images, an attempted suicide, brief aberrant sexual interaction, glimpses of upper and rear female nudity, a few mild oaths, numerous rough terms, occasional crude language, an obscene gesture. The OSV News classification is L — limited adult audience, films whose problematic content many adults would find troubling. The Motion Picture Association rating is R — restricted. Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian.

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