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The Exorcism Of Emily Rose

Title: The Exorcism Of Emily Rose

Director: Scott Derrickson

Stars: Laura Linney ; Tom Wilkinson ; Campbell Scott ; Jennifer Carpenter

Reviewer: Matt Eccles

Rating (out of 10): 4


This chiller-cum-legal drama became a US sleeper hit in 2005 and it was obvious why: pitched as a true-life battle between faith and reason in the arena of a courtroom, it captured the imagination of many god-fearing folk across the pond. Laura Linney plays an agnostic defence lawyer who argues against a devout Methodist prosecutor (Campbell Scott) for the acquittal of a Catholic priest (Tom Wilkinson) charged with negligent homicide following the death of the title character (Jennifer Carpenter) following a deliverance.

There are aspects to admire about The Exorcism Of Emily Rose, such as the mainly strong performances and particularly the script’s even-handedness in the presentation of the evidence. However, they are far outweighed by director Scott Derrickson’s conviction that, despite the obvious weakness of the defence’s increasingly preposterous case, we should root for them anyway.

Further, nothing at all is made of the seemingly intriguing and ironic device of an agnostic insisting on the existence of supernatural entities while a fervent Christian damns such claims. Even if this contrivance is intended as a red herring, it remains an embarrassing failure. This probably helps explain why the film did less well in generally more sceptical, more secular-minded Europe, where it was widely regarded at best as an unremarkable two hours of holy hokum.

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