Thursday, December 3, 2009

Film Recommendation: Into Temptation

I never would have watched the film Into Temptation if my sister weren't an extra in it. Something about the title just didn't excite me.

But, duty bound, I did watch it now that it's available on Netflix, and I was impressed. Filmed in Minneapolis with several familiar scenes in the background (including the inside of the beautiful Mpls Basilica, the neighborhoods of Lake Calhoun, the outside of Chino-Latino, and the scuzzier parts of Hennepin Ave.), the film opens with a young Catholic priest (Jeremy Cisco) listening to a litany of rather mundane confessions and concerns from his parish. Through the confession box, a woman enters and asks if she can be absolved for a sin she has not committed. "I'm going to kill myself on my birthday," she tells him. "And I'm an Aries, Father, so I don't have a lot of time." The woman is a prostitute, and after she leaves--without really having received an answer from him--he cannot get her out of his head. He wants to find her, wants to help, but he does not know who she is and cannot break the bonds of confession. You can imagine the awkwardness of a priest walking downtown streets at night trying to find a prostitute--but not like that.

There are many ways this film could go wrong in a hurry, but it avoids them. The script is tight, the piano music interspersed throughout is lovely, and the make-up artist succeeds in making the beautiful Broadway star Kristin Chenowyth (the prostitute) look like a woman whose life has aged and emptied her beyond her years.

Bits of the priest's sermons and the characters' actions combine in a study of what it means to live a godly life. The ending, which, again, deftly avoids several pitfalls in order to strike the perfect note, emphasizes the importance of small acts of kindness. I've been thinking about the film all day.

If you are looking for the talented actress Stephanie Bright, by the way, she's the dark pony tail and blue scrubs that passes Kristin in the hospital scene.

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