The Sin Eater


Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

It's an interesting idea.

A smart bloke in a suit comes along when you're dying, does a few abracadabras and your chest opens up and out squirm transparent snaky things that fly around the room, ending up down the smart guy's throat. He goes, "Yuck! Ahhrrr!!", and feels queasy for a while. The dying guy pops his clogs with a smile on his face. The snaky things are sins and the big mouth in the suit is the sin eater. He's immortal, as well, or rather, he's been around since the 17th century.

In amongst this unmitigated garbage is a cassock full of mumbo jumbo about the Catholic Church and what a mess it's in. "The dark pope rises," a dungeon voice proclaims. Ooo-er!

The script overflows with half-baked twaddle, such as "The terrible thing about searching for the truth is that sometimes you find it." Writer/producer/director Brian Helgeland needs to sit down with himself and have a chat.

Alex (Heath Ledger) is a priest in New York, who falls in love with a mentally unstable artist (Shannyn Sossamon). They go to Rome to find out how his mentor and father figure died. Another priest, called Thomas (Mark Addy), joins them. He specialises in exorcisms and goes into catacombs, where scary men in black, with their heads covered, talk some ancient language and Thomas sticks his crucifix in their faces, as if it's going to do any good. He ends up being semi-crucified by the hologram of a prostitute he fancied in Dublin years ago.

My God, let's not tell the story. It'll drive sane men doolally.

Anything to do with religion and the Devil and corruption in the church and the supernatural is going to have trouble in the credibility stakes. This is so far off the map, it should be funny, but Ledger keeps a straight face and for a moment you might be forgiven for thinking he believes in what he does. "Knowledge is the enemy of faith," he is told. No worries, mate! Knowledge is off the menu.

When Addy is impaled on a plank, moaning like a moose, you wonder if he remembers what fun it was making The Full Monty with Bobby Carlyle and whether he regrets carrying on with this acting lark.

"Sometimes when you look into the abyss, the abyss looks back into you," the sin eater says.

Know the feeling, Marko?

Reviewed on: 11 Sep 2003
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Supernatural religious tale of a fallen priest and a well dressed 400-year-old Italian charmer.
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Director: Brian Helgeland

Writer: Brian Helgeland

Starring: Heath Ledger, Shannyn Sossamon, Benno Furmann, Mark Addy, Peter Weller, Francesco Carnelutti, Mattia Sbragia

Year: 2003

Runtime: 122 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: US, Germany


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