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Sundance 2020 Review: “Leap of Faith: William Friedkin on The Exorcist” (2019) ★★★★


“The Exorcist” from 1973 from William Friedkin is the second scariest film for me after “The Omen” (1976) by Richard Donner. Both still stand out for two reasons after four decades – the exceptional story and the excellent soundtrack. While we still wait for someone to make a documentary about “The Omen”, filmmaker and documentarist Alexandre O. Philippe takes us, with the help of “Leap of Faith William Friedkin on The Exorcist”, straight to the center of the legendary film narrated by the iconic William Friedkin himself.

“Leap of Faith” invites the viewer into the intimate world of “The Exorcist”, the inspiration behind it, films that have influenced Friedkin in making the film in the first place, the cast, and how he changed his mind to cast Jason Miller as Father Karras. The search for the soundtrack, location, and faith itself. It all manifests into one film you will find both stunning and informative. As the film unfolds the world of “The Exorcist”, director William Friedkin opens up about the rare details you will find amazing because it gives insights on Friedkin himself, as it explains a lot why there was no other director who could envision what he did.

Through archival footage, scenes from the legendary film, Alexandre O. Philippe turns his documentary into a wild ride into the past you would not want to come back from. As you hear Friedkin’s own words, you will realize that there are not many filmmakers who are able to see the cinematic world the way he did. As he reveals interesting facts about his most important film, Alexandre O. Philippe allows through his flawless structure the story to unfold in such a way, you will start feeling that you want to watch the actual film all over again.

That said, not many documentaries can achieve what Alexandre O. Philippe does with his. It’s intelligent, super engaging, and fun to watch. There is never a moment when you feel that this or that info you learn was less important. Everything about it is pure perfection and that’s not because you, like many others, love “The Exorcist”. The credit must go to Alexandre O. Philippe who is equally brilliant in sensing the material as the first-hand source and let it flow throughout organically.

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