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-The Last Sin Eater (PG-13)

by Dr. D ~

FoxFaith, Feb.9, 2007, Directed by Michael Landon Jr., 117 min., Cast: Liana Liberato (Cadi Forbes), Louise Fletcher (Miz Elda), Henry Thomas (Man of God), Thea Rose (Lilybet), Soren Fulton (Fagan Kai), Stewart Finlay-McLennan (Brogan Kai), Peter Wingfield (Sin Eater), Elizabeth Lackey (Fia Forbes).

A fascinating tale based upon a book by Francine Rivers.  The story is set in the Appalachian Mountains of 1850.  It starts with a flash back of 20 years when the village men drew chicken bones to choose a new ‘Sin Eater’.  A ‘Sin Eater’ was an old Celtic tradition brought with them from the old country, Wales.  One man would be chosen to take upon himself all the sins of those who died in the village.  Sort of like the ‘scapegoat’ of Old Testament tradition, but this scapegoat was a man instead.


The Sin Eater lived the life of a hermit totally ostracized from the rest of the community until someone died.  Then the bell would ring, the dead person would be taken to the graveyard and the Sin Eater would come and eat bread and wine over the body and take upon himself the sins of the dead one.

10 year old Cadi Forbes became obsessed with the Sin Eater following her grandmother’s death and his coming to take her sins away.  Cadi wanted to find the Sin Eater so he could take away her sin while she was still living.  She blamed herself and her mother blamed her also for the death of her little sister.  Young Fagan Kai, who obviously liked and cared for Cadi, helped her in the search for the Sin Eater.

Finally Cadi did find the Sin Eater and persuaded him to perform the ritual over her while she was still alive.  However, after it was finished, Cadi still felt the same and continued to anguish over her sister.  Along the way, Cadi and Fagan had come across a stranger who was camping by the river.  The Stranger started to teach them out of a large black book.  He told them about the real Sin Eater, God’s own son.

Mean while, Fagan’s father, Brogan who was the village leader/bully, had warned the stranger to leave their mountain and ordered everyone to stay away from him.  When he found Cadi and his son Fagan listening to the stranger, he proceeded to beat up his own son for ‘siding’ against him.  When the stranger tried to intervene, Brogan beat the stranger to death.

Cadi and Fagan ran away to find help in healing Fagan’s wounds.  In the process they discovered some very dark secrets about the founding of their community, and with the help of the remaining village matriarch Miz Elda, they bring out and expose the truth to the obvious consternation of Brogan Kai.  The truth does set the village free of their past and their false superstitions about the Sin Eater.  Redemption comes to Cadi and the entire village as they find out about the real Sin Eater, named Jesus.

The movie has an unfortunate title which may put off some.  It is an interesting story with a couple of unexpected twists and also several that you are ready for.  Liana Liberato does a tremendous job in her role as Cadi Forbes.  Louise Fletcher gives a remarkable performance as the village matriarch- Miz Elda.  It would be a good movie for the whole family except some of the violence may be a little much for younger children (PG-13).  Nevertheless, I wholeheartedly recommend it.

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