Staring: Heath Ledger, Shannyn Sossamon and Poala Emilia Villa (and Benno Furman who was great, and Mark Addy).
(poorly) Written and (mis) Directed by: Brian Heldgeland
This was not a bad movie. This was also not the fast-paced, creepy movie that the trailers made it out to be. Of course, there are things that I hate worse than movie trailers that are created to fool me, but movie trailers that are created to fool me would be on my list of things I hate.
This movie is about a very small Order in the Catholic Church. It is so small, in fact, that there are only three fellas in it and one of them perishes in the opening scenes. The two who are left are, one might presume, keen on finding out how or why the third died but this approach quickly gives way to a movie about the Sin Eater.
Now the whole Sin Eater is a cool premise for a movie. What is a Sin Eater? Well, it seems that this quasi-immortal provides an alternate route to Heaven by taking upon himself the sins of a person dying who will not be (or can not be) absolved. Pretty cool, eh? I thought so.
Unfortunately the film fails to deliver on much other than showing that both the cast and the casting director did their jobs well. Come to think of it, from a purely technical point of view, this movie is pretty damn fine. The shooting is great, the acting is superb, everything resonates well together and the idea that drives the plot is as creepy as it is cool. But somewhere along the way it just doesnt fully work out as a good movie. In my mind it just isnt ever quite sure what it is about and because of this fails to flesh out the details surrounding what it could be about. If it is about the idea of the Sin Eater then I would have liked to have seen more about the whole Catholic connection (is there really such a thing somewhere in the Catholic Mythos? Could this movie have tricked me into believing that there was?). If this movie was about the protagonist and how his character changes then I would have liked to seen more about what he was like and what his motivations were rather than just seeing the brief period where he does change in character (from what I am not certain). Maybe the movie just tried to be too many different things and managed not to be any.
There was a lot of stuff in this movie that just didnt make a whole lot of sense and may be laying somewhere on an editing room floor. I do not want to wreck anything for you but if you do see it (and I would suggest waiting for the video at least) think about the whole hanging-Q and A thing (youll know when you see it). Dont get me wrong, the movie gets full points on weird for this concept but what in the hell was that all about and why didnt I get to learn more. And why did the Bishop (or whoever he was) have the time to sit around in an underground cavern waiting for people to show up unexpectedly? And
. Well, the list could go on. This movie is full of unanswered questions that would not have been important except that the movie made them important.
This could easily have been a favourite movie of mine if something had just been done better. I cannot quite put my finger on what it needed to be. It had everything and still managed to blow it. Maybe it simply was that my expectations were set incorrectly having seen the promotional material and I was looking for something a little more intense and less understated. Who knows?
My advice, wait for the video and enjoy it while you watch it because, in hindsight, it kinda sucked.