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ReelTalk Movie Reviews
Father, Forgive Thyself
by Betty Jo Tucker

Nobody’s perfect -- especially not Anthony Romano in Sinner. He’s a Catholic priest with secrets he fears might be revealed by the sexy female grifter he’s been trying to help. No good deed goes unpunished, as the old saying goes, but the determined priest continues to challenge the woman's cynicism and wild behavior. Surprisingly, through the interaction of these two flawed characters, each one finds redemption.

With this compelling drama, director Marc Benardout makes an impressive feature film debut. He certainly knows how to present ideas and confrontations in a way that grabs our attention and causes us to THINK as well as care about what’s happening on screen. An intelligent script by Steven Sills and fine performances by Nick Chindlund, Georgina Cates, Michael E. Rodgers and Brad Dourif also add to the quality of Sinner.

In the role of Father Romano, Chindlund (Detective Sullivan in TV’s Desperate Housewives) projects an imposing charisma. He endows his character with a soft-spoken manner -- but also with a clever way of persuading people to see his point of view. In contrast, Father Stephen -- Romano’s ambitious subordinate, who’s played by Michael E. Rodgers (Gia) -- displays a more authoritarian attitude. Everything is black and white to the fundamentalist Father Stephen. Ironically, it’s Father Stephen’s attack of Lil (Georgina Cates), a prostitute who preys on celibate priests, that brings Father Romano and the unlovable Lil together, setting the stage for Lil’s time of sanctuary in their church and her blackmailing of Father Romano as well as their challenging conversations. Cates (Illuminata) gives Lil an overbearing bravado which she wears like a suit of armor, and it's not easy for Father Romano to break through that kind of emotional barrier. 

One of the film’s highlights occurs when Father Romano’s enigmatic golf caddie (the always wonderful Dourif, not looking at all like the doctor he played so brilliantly in HBO’s Deadwood ) assists the priest come to grips with his crisis of conscience. It’s strange to see these two friends playing golf only at night, and we become very curious about why they don’t hit the links during daylight hours like normal people. (Not to worry, dear readers. An explanation arrives in the nick of time.) 

Viewers expecting another exposé of the Catholic Church may be disappointed with Sinner. Father Anthony Romano has more in common with priests depicted in The Bells of St. Mary’s than in Priest, and this film’s focus is clearly on the universal themes of forgiveness and redemption. Director Benardout explains, “I made Sinner in order to challenge an audience into thinking about right and wrong and to spark conversation on whether anyone or anything is unredeemable.”

Mission accomplished. 

(Produced by Sinner Film Production, LLC; not rated by MPAA. Click here for more information about this movie.)

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