Matson Films // 2007 // 88 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Brett Cullum // June 19th, 2009
It's hard out there for a priest.
Father Romano (Nick Chinlund, Ultraviolet) is finding the priesthood more and more difficult as scandals rock the Catholic church. His own parish is anemic, often with nobody attending mass, and it looks like they are heading for bankruptcy. A female con artist (Georgina Cates, An Awfully Big Adventure) arrives and tries seduce both Father Romano as well as his younger charge (Michael E. Rodgers,The Bone Hunter). She ends up being attacked by the junior priest, and Father Romano has to make a difficult decision to offer the troubled woman asylum. The two unlikely souls begin to refocus each other, and Father Romano has found the unlikeliest of muses to rekindle his faith. They uncover each other's biggest secrets, and it looks like the tradition of Mary Madgelane gets carried on.
The acting is uniformly solid, and the cast does well with a nicely paced script that raises interesting points while giving the two leads strong character beats. Nick Chinlund and Georgina Cates seem to have had high points in their careers a decade ago, and they go for broke with their roles here. They play things a touch broadly in the dramatic moments, but the tortured priest and tempestuous whore dynamic rather calls for that. Michael Rodgers gives good support, and Brad Dourif (Child's Play) makes an appearance in a small role as a philosophical golf caddy. It's a simple story, focusing on conversations about the trials and tribulations of life when you're in a desperate place.
The DVD is bare bones offering nothing but an okay transfer. The film's widescreen presentation doesn't look sharp, and there are sequences that are too dark with poorly managed black levels. Details are not crisp, and overall it looks soft as if the movie were shot decades ago rather than in 2007. The sound is simple stereo, and it does the job with the dialogue without offering any atmospherics. There are no extras or even trailers on the front end making the disc as "no frills" as they come.
Sinner is a well acted independent production that makes a nice character study. It's an interesting duet between a priest and a lost soul, and in that respect it does fine. It certainly performed well on the film festival circuit picking up many accolades along the way, and the feature is worth a look if you're in the mood for a modern day priest drama. It doesn't come down hard on Catholicism like Priest or what you might expect given the current political climate surrounding the Roman-run church. The main character is a remarkable man who tries to do the right things even when those choices are difficult. He's the kind of church authority figure you admire for surviving all the scandals, because he simply bravely soldiers on in the name of his beliefs no matter what the circumstances.
Guilty of committing a couple of sins, but absolved of most of them.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Matson Films
* 1.85:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Running Time: 88 Minutes
Release Year: 2007
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Official Site