**½/**** Image C+ Audio A Extras A
starring Gabriel Byrne, Patricia Arquette, Jonathan Pryce, Nia Long
screenplay by Tom Lazarus and Rick Ramage
directed by Rupert Wainwright
by Walter Chaw 1999 was an interesting year. The end of any millennium is accompanied by some kind of fin de siècle madness and the most recent one, in the United States anyway, was indicated by fears that the Y2K bug would launch our nuclear arsenal, cause airplanes to fall out of the sky, and end life as we knew it. It caused our movies to deal with technological folly (The Matrix, The Blair Witch Project, The Iron Giant, The Thirteenth Floor, eXistenZ, Bicentennial Man), shifting identities (Fight Club, Eyes Wide Shut, The Sixth Sense, The Virgin Suicides, The Talented Mr. Ripley, Memento, Being John Malkovich), and general apocalyptic mood (Magnolia, The Ninth Gate, Arlington Road). Looking back, everything we needed to know about the coming conflagration was here in these few years leading up to 9/11. Amid so many fine genre choices (Stir of Echoes, Audition, The Limey, and so on), consider Rupert Wainwright's handsome Catholic muddle Stigmata, a hyper-extended music video that makes no sense whatsoever but still works because of Patricia Arquette's ineffable grace and Gabriel Byrne's unflappable cool. In its own way, the film is prescient, seeing that its bleach-bypassed, Fincherian ethos would take over as visual shorthand for the coming apocalypse. Expulsion from Eden is this final surrender to digital wonderlands: we lost most of our colour palette along with our innocence.