Unsatisfying 'Sin Eater'
"The Last Sin Eater," a faith-based movie, has one unequivocal message: When it comes to driving out sin, let Jesus take the wheel.
Set in a Welsh immigrant community in 1850s Appalachia, the story follows the efforts of 10-year-old Cadi Forbes (Liana Liberato) to purge her sin regarding a traumatic incident for which she feels responsible. When she learns about a sin-eater -- a reclusive figure who metaphorically eats the sins of the dead for an entire community -- she visits his lair to seek help. But this infuriates her family and neighbors, who chide her for manipulating ancient customs, and they're not too thrilled about Cadi's claims that an angel has been helping and guiding her.
A resourceful and determined person, Cadi manages to get what she wanted -- but not nearly in the way she imagined. For that, she has a friendly, Bible-quoting stranger (Henry Thomas) to thank.
"Sin Eater," based on a novel by Francine Rivers, and directed by Michael Landon Jr., is clearly targeted at Christians looking to reaffirm their faith. Its chances of crossover success with the secular crowd seem remote, given the dramatic shortcomings. The cast's attempts to speak in the old country accent have uneven results. And the story often feels pedestrian and predictable as Cadi undergoes her schematic evolution. But for many people of faith, that sort of transformation will feel rewarding in any form.
-- Desson Thomson
The Last Sin Eater PG-13, 142 minutes Contains scenes of trauma and violence. Area theaters.