The Last Sin Eater (2008)


Our rating: 4 out of 5

Rated: PG13

reviewed by Rissi C.


During the late 18th and early 19th centuries, Welsh immigrants coming to America brought with them an ancient Celtic ritual practiced for hundreds of years. That ritual was known as the Sin Eater." When a member of the Cove passes on, the mourners place a cloth with bread and wine on top of that person. With that done, the mourners turn around and await the Sin Eater's arrival. He then eats the bread and wine, taking the persons sins upon himself so they don't carry their sins into eternity with them.


Twenty years later, we begin as young Cadi Forbes (Liana Liberato) journey to free herself of the tradition and hurt she carries with her. Cadi is a girl full of life and energy; she loves her granny and often visits her. On such an occasion, granny sends Cadi off, saying she needs some color. Cadi excitedly dashes off to find granny some beautiful flowers. When she returns she finds her granny has passed on. Grief stricken to have some one so dear to her heart taken away, Cadi attends the funeral with her distant mother Fia (Lisa Lackey) and father Angor (A.J. Buckley). After being sternly warned by a family friend to not look the Sin Eater (Peter Wingfield) in the eyes because his evil ways may cause death, Cadi cant help but glance at him when hearing his lonely, gentle voice. 


The cause of Cadis terrible ache comes from losing her sister Ellen a couple of years ago. Ever since, Cadis mother has been uncaring and neglectful. Because Ellen followed Cadi the day of the accident, Cadi blames herself. When Cadi overhears a conversation between her parents in which she concludes that her mother wishes she had died instead of her sister, Cadi runs off to the place that her sister died. Just as she feels that she shouldn't be allowed to live, she hears the quiet voice of Lilybet (Thea Rose), an angelic girl who helps Cadi on her journey to free her of her sin." Cadi and Fagan (Soren Fulton) a young boy from the Cove strike up a friendship. Questioning Fagan about the Sin Eater, he tells her they need to talk to someone who was older than the trees." Cadi and Fagan instantly think of Miz Edna (Louise Fletcher) and they go to have a chat with her. Discovering what they really came to see her for, Miz Edna tells them that they shouldn't be asking questions about the Sin Eater and to go home. While Cadi believes that the Sin Eater is the only person who can help her, she soon comes to realize that there is only one person who can take away all her sins and truly be set free by the truth.


The Last Sin Eater was not an appealing title and because of it, I did not care if I saw this or not. After my aunt went to see it she commented on how good it was. She was right! This is an amazing story of truth, forgiveness and love. From the first moment we meet Cadi there is something about her that tugs at you. Her truly heart-wrenching burden involving her sister Ellen is always lingering in the back of her mind; she knows that unless she is forgiven she can never be free. There are about four flashback sequences in this film all of them are well done. While the final one does flash to the past and then come back to the present more than once it doesn't make you feel disorientated. Some of the content is defiantly worthy of using caution, as it may be frightening for young viewers. In a flashback, Cadi remembers Ellen's death that has her falling off a tree limb into a ravine. Two men are beaten, one to death, the other badly injured. A man who is the self appointed leader of the Cove is violent towards his family.


In another flashback a group of men kill several people who they feel are a threat, but aren't. Cadi has nightmares and in one, a man grabs her throat. While walking home one afternoon a man stops Cadi and threatens her while grabbing her by the neck and nearly choking her. A young boy and girl yell at a parent ,saying they hate them. Cadi has a vision of ending her life and once attempts to. Because of some frightening flashbacks, I wouldn't recommend this for children thirteen and younger. In addition to some startling themes, this film also has a mature subject matter that may be hard to understand for young viewers. One comment that was said after my family and I finished this was we couldn't believe this was in theaters. This movie has a strong message of truth portrayed in an almost quiet, simple way that every Christian should support. It is also a film you could recommend to a friend who isn't a Christian and they wouldn't feel like they were being preached at. This story is based on Francine Rivers' best selling novel and was directed by Michael Landon Jr., someone I hope continues to make Christian films. 


All the acting is worthy of mentioning. Eleven-year-old Liana was very good--she really portrayed her character well. Peter Wingfield, A.J. Buckley and Lisa Lackey were fabulous in their roles as well. One of Liana and Lisa's last scenes together was so touching; you will want the Kleenex box. I was impressed with Thea Rose even though her part was small; there was something about her that you loved. All of the actors made you care about what happened to them and for a group of lesser known actors they were fantastic at showing their emotions, weather it was sorrow or joy. An awesome scene that has the Cove all together comes about five minutes before the movie is over, you are awestruck by Cadis simple gesture when you realize what it means.


If you were like me and weren't at first interested in this, I encourage you to give The Last Sin Eater a chance. It was an emotional story that I was very glad my aunt recommended and a DVD I will add to my collection. In the last three years there has been a small collection of Christian films hitting theaters. The romantic epic One Night with the King, the amazing true story of William Wilberforce in Amazing Grace and the family friendly but still inspirational Facing the Giants. Many of the recent Christian films have been distributed by the new Fox Faith production company, which I will be watching, hoping to see more like these being made. The Last Sin Eater is just another movie now added to the few marvelous and brilliantly made Christian films that I will be watching over and over again, just make sure you have a box of Kleenex handy for this one.