September 6, 2003

Snap Crackle Sin

SE-4.jpg Sometimes those first ideas really are the best. Take, for instance, the decision to change the title of the new Brian Helgeland/Heath Ledger film (no, not A Knight's Tale: The Sequel) from The Sin Eater to The Order. Though PCC knows in her heart of hearts that regardless of moniker, Helgeland's film would still be the problematic mess it is. That said, PCC admits she was strangely intrigued by the story, unschooled as she is in all things religious and especially all things Catholic. The Order follows Alex Bernier (Heath Ledger), a young priest of the arcane Carolingian order who travels to Rome to investigate the mysterious death of his mentor. Along the way, we meet the talented Benno Fürmann (from Tom Tykwer's The Princess and the Warrior) as the titular Sin Eater and Heath's costar's from A Knight's Tale, Shannyn Sossamon and Mark Addy. Oh, and there's some illicit priest sex, a few demons and a whole lot of sin thrown in for good measure.

Even with a main character who literally munches on sin, The Order was severely flawed. PCC feels a bit sorry for Helgeland, who apparently devoted much time and effort into researching his latest film. Perhaps in all the excitement over shooting in Rome (PCC doesn't deny this would be a wonderfully intoxicating experience for any filmmaker), Mr. Helgeland forgot to include a story. The final product is a confusing hodge-podge of scenes and references to past events that intrigue us at first but eventually irritate us as we realize that no further information is forthcoming. Ledger and Sossamon's characters obviously share some sort past, but all we know about those lost years are strange mutterings about exorcisms and suicide attempts. The script is so wooden that there is no chance for the chemistry and sense of comaraderie that seemed so natual in A Knight's Tale to develop.

In another director's care, the story of a man (demon? antichrist? God?) who has the power to forgive those who have committed unforgivable sins would be fodder for an excellent film. Unfortunately, in Helgeland's clumsy grip, an intriguing concept becomes a jumble of swirling black capes, crosses and candlelit Roman attics, peppered with actors whose only sin was signing on to this doomed film.

Posted by jordan at September 6, 2003 11:47 PM