on 25 July 2013
No lengthy customer's review of "The Sin Eater" (or, as it also has been titled, "The Order") is needed here, on Amazon-U.K.'s WWW site; there are lots of quite good ones here with the multiple entries for the film and on Amazon-U.S. However, for quick and ready convenience of users who prefer to avoid longer comments about "The Sin Eater", I'll make some relatively brief remarks here. The film is of the occult Inner-Workings-of-the-Church (i.e. the Romish Catholic Church) genre, with lots of creepy motifs and bizarre, cinematically induced happenings. A young and very handsome priest, Fr. Alex (Heath Ledger's role), a wonderfully Latin-celebrating traditionalist (hooray!), is drawn, entranced, to the more hidden and occult byways of his Church.
Alas, this fascination sucks Fr. Alex and his older, experienced Satan-fighting priestly cohort, Fr. Thomas (Mark Addy) deeply into realms, at the highest ecclesiastical level, of evil and superstition-brought-to-life. Fr. Alex ends up pursuing a "sin eater", one William Eden (played by Benno Fürmann, looking surprisingly comely and seductively dapper for this role, as the movie studio has costumed and cosmetically enhanced him), who is an aeons-old (but prime-life looking) occultist, who draws sin and condemnation to himself from excommunicated sinners about to face the end of their mortal lives, gaining for them forgiveness without God's ordained means of grace and sacraments. This is not exactly orthodox Christianity, namely Roman (and Eastern Rite) Catholic, Anglo-Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, or Lutheran, in case one does not know that already.
Fr. Alex succumbs to the temptations of the flesh, permitting Ledger to shed some clothes to studly effect, although surely Ledger's fans would prefer to see much more of the beauteous surface, revealed to the camera to greater (and more intimate) extent, of that Australian star's buck-naked, appealingly svelte Anglo-Celtic body; Ledger undoubtedly had been one of the most undeniably sexy male actors of his generation. The ensuing lovemaking is (even if more suggestively than explicitly) pretty "hot", if all too brief.
Alas, Alex loses his gal, Mara (played by Shannyn Sossamon), anyway, to the treacherous misdoings of the sin-catcher. In forfeiting his priestly vows, the young priest has acceded to William Eden's blandishments of "being a man rather than a priest". His predicament leads Alex also to gain occult power, too, however unwillingly he at first has been seeking it on a conscious level; Alex seizes it in a moment of panic, thus being doomed to many centuries of bondage to the very potency which Eden gladly relinquishes to Alex for the peace of the grave for which Eden has come to yearn.
Thus, things have gotten a bit complicated, needless to say; the sin-chewing Eden has slain Mara, the priest's beloved, and he has tricked Fr. Alex into accepting Eden's offer to exchange his own occult function with Alex, for the release from life that Eden so much desires. The interaction of Fr. Alex with William Eden, as well as the gradually intensifying relationship of Alex with Mara, are fascinating to watch, as these three masterly actors play this out with consummate dramatic skill, sensitivity, and nuance. As the movie ends, a new sin-eater, Alex himself, now sets out upon his centuries-to-come of work and, in doing so, thankfully, he foils the wicked schemes of an ambitiously scheming and mega-wicked, papacy-seeking cardinal.
The film is visually gorgeous, with lots of Catholic artwork and ecclesiastical bling-bling, fine Roman architecture (pagan and, especially, Roman Catholic), and so forth to view. It makes for an enjoyable albeit eerie way to pass some time at the video-player and screen.