Louise Fletcher as Nurse Ratched in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest is arguably the most iconic female villain in film history. The miscasting of Fletcher—still a forbidding screen presence—as a kindly grandmother is only one of many missteps that director Michael Landon Jr. (yes, it’s his son) makes in The Last Sin Eater, the tale of a guilt-wracked 10-year-old in mid-19th-century Appalachia. Little Cadi (Liana Liberato) is convinced that she caused the death of her younger sister and obsessed with absolving her crime by finding the “sin eater”—a member of the community who allegedly grants redemption to the worldly. Liberato muddles through a heavy-handed Christian agenda and barely legible plot as the film follows Cadi through the woods on various sin-expunging missions, sometimes accompanied by an imaginary sprite or her pseudo-love-interest Fagan. Toward the end of the film, Cadi and Fagan stumble on a “Man of God,” who teaches them, and the rest of the village, that there are no mortal sin eaters: Only Jesus can nosh on your transgressions.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on January 30, 2007