Sleeper hit


Yet another film is following the path of National Treausure, and even The Pasion of the Christ, doing very well at the box office despite horrible reviews from most of the critics (average critic: C+ according to Yahoo). This demonstrates again the extreme disjunction between the predictably elitist artsy critics and the moviegoing public.

The number one film this weekend was The Exorcism of Emily Rose. Its basic fault in the eyes of most critics is that it is about demonic posession, and therefore of no possible interest to rational members of the modern world. Emily Rose drew almost four times the revenue of the number two film, in fact, which makes it a breakout hit.

I had an unexpected opportunity this past weekend to take in the movie, and enjoyed it greatly. Compared to The Exorcist, another huge popular hit about exorcism, Emily Rose is both more intelligent and better acted. Laura Linney and Campbell Scott are well—matched as lawyers battling it out in a courtroom fight over the death of a girl during exorcism, and they are both terrific, multidimensional advocates of clashing worldviews.

Flashbacks are used in a Rashomon—like fashion, showing the same events from the perspectives of different people. For people who are willing to entertain the question of a possible spiritual realm beyond our knowing and measuring, roughly 70 to 80% of the public, by my guess, it is an evocative and thought—provoking film. But for the elitist minority, which long ago moved "beyond" religion, and which despises as rubes those who believe differently, it is a bore.

I am guessing the film will have pretty good legs at the box office. Let the critics carp, a few smart cookies in Hollywood are figuring out how to draw customers into the theatres.

Thomas Lifson   9 12 05