The Sin Eater
2 out of 5 starsUS title: The Order
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Helgeland reunites three actors from his medieval romp A Knight's Tale for this religious thriller that's neither religious nor thrilling. It's a ponderous mishmash that's rather fun in a camp sort of way. Father Alex (Ledger) is a radical Olde Worlde priest in New York. He and his pal Thomas (Addy) are the last of a dying order dedicated to fighting evil spirits, so when their mentor (Carnelutti) dies they head to Rome where they're sucked into a search for the mythical sin eater (Furmann), who can absolve people without any need for the church. Naturally, a top cardinal (Weller) is insistent that they find him. But is there a conspiracy afoot?

This is a curious misstep for the guy who won the Oscar for L.A. Confidential. Even A Knight's Tale held together better than this often hilarious collection of arch dialog and corny plotting. Firstly, the entire idea of a sin eater no longer works in a religiously diverse world that doesn't need the Roman Church to save its soul! But if you put your brain aside, you'll enjoy the ominous pronouncements ("The dark pope rises!") and the ludicrously convoluted back-stories. The cast does what they can: Ledger is in mopey Ned Kelly mode when he needs far more energy to take us with him. Addy is merely comic relief. Furmann provides a sinister, surprisingly enticing counterpoint. And poor Sossamon seems wedged into the film as an afterthought; her character has little to do with the story ... and how an escaped mental patient can travel internationally is anyone's guess! The film has an over-the-top production design that never lets up--candle-lit gothic spaces, murky dust-filled lofts, lots of creepy door-knocking and wing-rustling, utterly gratuitous special effects. But the script has moments of lucid intelligence and sharp wit to balance the continual silliness. No, it's never scary or even creepy for a second, but there's a trashy goofiness that gives it cult value. If you'll pardon the pun.

cert 15 themes, language, violence 9.Sep.03

dir-scr Brian Helgeland
with Heath Ledger, Shannyn Sossamon, Benno Furmann, Mark Addy, Peter Weller, Francesco Carnelutti, Mattia Sbragia, Mirko Casaburo, Giulia Lombardi, Richard Bremmer, Rosalinda Celentano, David Ambrosi
release US 5.Sep.03 ; UK 12.Sep.03
03/Germany 1h43

An apocalyptic Mod Squad: Addy, Sossamon, Ledger

ledger sossamon addy
the order (u.s. title)
R E A D E R   R E V I E W S
send your review to Shadows... the sin eater "It was a thought inspiring film. It creates an idea of much better and deeper conspiracy within the Catholic church than little boy molestation." --Follower, net 16.Sep.03
2003 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall