A 19 year old (Heath Ledger) finds himself in debt to a local gangster (Bryan Brown) when some gang loot disappears and sets him on the run from thugs. Meanwhile two street kids start a ... See full summary »
A poet falls in love with an art student who gravitates to his bohemian lifestyle -- and his love of heroin. Hooked as much on one another as they are on the drug, their relationship alternates between states of oblivion, self-destruction, and despair.
Alex Bernier (Ledger) is a member of an arcane order of priests known as Carolingians. When the head of the order dies, Alex is sent to Rome to investigate mysterious circumstances surrounding the death. The body bears strange marks on the chest which may or may not be the sign of a Sin Eater (Furmann), a renegade who offers absolution, last rites and therefore a path to heaven outside the jurisdiction of the church. Alex enlists the aid of his old comrade Father Thomas (Addy) and of a troubled artist (Sossamon) upon whom he once performed an exorcism. He soon finds himself plunged into a mystery only to find himself at the heart of it. Written by
During the scene in which Alex and Mara are making love, the leather bracelet Alex wears changes position from one wrist to the other several times. See more »
Every life is a riddle. The answer to mine is knowledge, born of darkness.
It wasn't always so. In the beginning, I still had questions. In the beginning, my mystery still remained.
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Superb film, but it requires viewers to slown down, pay attention and think
After Dominic (Francesco Carnelutti), a priest who is one of the last of the Carolingian order, dies of an apparent suicide, the other two remaining Carolingians, Alex Bernier (Heath Ledger) and Thomas Garret (Mark Addy), come to Rome to learn what happened. While there, they discover that something much more sinister is afoot.
I can see why The Order would have difficulty being commercially successful. And that's too bad, because this is an excellent film. The "problem" leading to a commercial struggle is that writer/director Brian Helgeland created a very intelligent script that assumes the viewer does not need everything spelled out to them. This is a film that opens by placing us in the middle of a complex world, with a deep history, so that we have to pay attention and do a bit of detective work to get up to speed initially. The script is full of unexplained references to beliefs and traditions of the Catholic Church and "orders" such as Carolingians and Jesuits. It is densely packed with clever dialogue, subtle puns and other kinds of literary devices and references. It uses, and some understanding of the film depends on, occasional phrases in Latin, Aramaic, French and Italian (although most of the important words and phrases are translated for us). This is not a light "popcorn" movie, and it is a slow burner. If you were not to fully pay attention and actively think about the film, you could easily become lost or confused.
The performances are superb. Alex, Thomas, Mara Sinclair (Shannyn Sossamon), William Eden (Benno Furmann), and Driscoll (Peter Weller) all seem like real people with complex personalities and back stories. Visually, Helgeland creates and sustains an incredible eerie atmosphere throughout the film. It's so remarkable that a repeated viewing focusing only on the production design, cinematography and composition would be very rewarding. The music, by David Torn, one of my favorite modern composers and musicians, is exceptional. And the relatively sparse visual effects are beautiful, well placed and appropriately surreal.
The story is captivating and becomes more so as it continues. It is wonderfully "gray" about its subject matter when it counts. This is a film that not only bears but demands repeated viewings, but you have to be able to slow down and think while viewing--don't expect action set pieces (although there are a couple minor bits of action), a gorefest, or MTV-styled editing.
The ending of The Order cries out for a sequel, but not because the ending is at all incomplete, or because there was a monster who just wouldn't die. However, given that the film only grossed a fraction of its 38 million dollar budget, those of us who are fans of this film will have to keep our fingers crossed.
A 10 out of 10 from me.
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