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aka - Order. The
USA 2003
Directed by
Brian Helgeland
103 minutes
Rated MA

Reviewed by
Sharon Hurst
1 stars

The Sin Eater

Alex (Heath Ledger) is a member of an obscure medieval religious order who have a scholarly interest in exorcisms, stigmata and demons. When Alex’s mentor Father Dominic (Francesco Carnelutti) is found dead with some very suspicious gouges out of his chest, Alex and his trusty sidekick, Father Thomas (Mark Addy) get onto the case. The trail leads them to ancient evils, bizarre rituals, corrupt cardinals, and of course ‘The Sin Eater (Benno Fürmann).

The fact that writer-director Helgeland can script such fine screenplays as Mystic River, and L A Confidential and then come up with this film is quite extraordinary. Whatever attracted him to the subject matte he fails to put it across not just in any remotely tenable manner but add in an illicit romance involving a lovely artist (Shannyn Sossamon) but in the vein of C-grade religious schlock,

Heath Ledger has done some fine acting as in Ned Kelly or Two Hands, but here he totally lacks the presence and the demeanour of a Man of The Cloth whilst Mark Addy also left me sceptical as to his priestly credentials. The only acting that carried even slight weight for me was that of Benno Fürman as the world-weary Sin Eater, who effectively combines charisma and frightening ambition.  Aside from this, the film’s only saving graces were the glorious views of Rome and a few well mocked-up interiors of St Peters, but this is not enough to save a film whose biggest sin is the waste of money on making it

 FYI: Heath Ledger, Shannyn Sossamon, and Mark Addy all previously appeared together in A Knight's Tale (2001) also directed by Helegland. For a somewhat better take on the medieval religious mystery film see Jean-Jacques Annaud's The Name of the Rose (1986)




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