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
Antonio Banderas was set to play the lead when the film was moving forward in 1999, but 20th Century Fox put it into turnaround after the studio wanted to trim the budget and had disputes with Brian Helgeland over casting Banderas' co-stars. See more »
You can see the cable holding the man who was being hanged. 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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There is a brilliant film trapped in here somewhere.
Although I really, really liked this movie, I must admit it's not for everyone, and here's why. The Order encompasses one or two intriguing ideas gone a bit awry.
A priest (played by Heath Ledger) is called upon to investigate the apparent suicide of his mentor, and uncovers the mystery of an ancient being, the Sin Eater, who is able to absolve the sins of those (unrepentant sinners, excommunicated persons, suicides) a normal Catholic priest would be unable to forgive due to church dogma. The knowledge of this creature forces the priest to face his own conflicted feelings about the priesthood. Before he has even begun to sort out his confusion, the larger plot begins to unravel and he finds that he has been at the center of it for longer than he had ever realized.
Well, it would have been excellent if left at that and fleshed out for the 100-minute duration, but it was not to be. The best bits of turmoil and conflict, of passion and temptation and surrender, were skimmed through so quickly it seemed as if someone thought they were the annoying-but-necessary bits when they should have been the real meat of the film. The rest was a clogged up mess of random (and inexplicable) demon children, a power-hungry cardinal, and worst of all: a love interest who had absolutely no chemistry with the main character, an accent that was completely out of place, a confusingly pointless back story, and who seemed incongruous with the setting and plot. Sadly, there were very few shots of the film's locations, only one wide shot of Rome in fact, which could have been used to set the tone much more effectively than all those shadows and candlelight.
That all said, there were many redeeming features. The soundtrack was hit-and-miss, but more hit than miss and at least it was never distracting. The duo of Ledger and Mark Addy was charming and the chemistry between Ledger's character and "William Eden" (played by Benno Fürmann) was sizzling. That adversarial relationship should have been the focus of the film rather than a sort of easter egg hunt during bits of the second half, but it was more than enough for me to consider this movie an hour and a half well spent.
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