Caught a sneak preview yesterday of local writer/actor/director Patrick Coyle’s excellent new movie, Into Temptation , and I wholeheartedly recommend that you try to see it during its brief run at the Lagoon from Aug. 28-Sept. 3. It’ll be released nationally on DVD Oct. 27 by First Look Studios, but this is one of the best films yet to emerge out of our nascent indie-film scene, so the more exposure it gets the better—for all of us.
What I liked most about Into Temptation is that it isn’t the sort of film that gets made in Hollywood—in fact, it feels as if it was created with an entirely different value system from the one guiding most feature films. There are no murders, guns, explosions, car chases, vampires, psychopaths, superheroes, terrorists, time travelers, amnesia victims, or environmental disasters. The fears that propel this movie forward are much more real and disturbing—much like Hitchcock’s psychological thrillers—and the way writer/director Coyle explores the anxiety eating away at his main character (a Catholic priest played by’s Law and Order ’s Jeremy Sisto) is more intelligent, philosophical, and I daresay adult, than most of the product churned out by today’s movie mills.
The setup is elegantly simple: A prostitute (played by Kristin Chenoweth) goes to a small Minneapolis church and confesses to the priest (Sisto) a sin she hasn’t committed yet: her upcoming suicide. Captivated by the woman’s story and desperately afraid that the woman is indeed going to kill herself, the priest engages in an increasingly obsessive search to find her—a search that takes him into a Pynchonian world of pornography and prostitution, where pimps quote Robert Frost and cabbies know where he’s going before he tells them.
What’s beautiful and interesting about the priest’s quest is that it draws him into a world of people he cannot save, which tests his faith. At the same time, the omniscient directorial eye lets the audience know that God is working in subtler, more mysterious ways than our hero the priest can comprehend. He may question God’s wisdom, but his faith is being rewarded in ways he is unaware of—ways that only intelligently crafted art can reveal. Even if you don’t believe in a god that pulls the puppet strings of life, this movie will ask you to consider the possibility that there are forces at work beyond our understanding, and that in a world full of moral confusion, even the smallest acts of kindness can make a big difference.
For those who like to see their city on the big screen, there’s plenty of action in the warehouse district (will Sexworld become a tourist destination?) and on the Stone Arch Bridge, and the film—though it stars Chenoweth, Sisto and The Office ’s Brian Baumgartner—is crawling with local actors, including Grant Richey, Marquetta Senters, Isabell Monk O’Connor, Greta Oglesby (most recently seen at the Guthrie as Caroline, in Tony Kushner's Caroline or Change ), Tom Carey, Ann Kellogg, and a host of others, including Patrick Coyle himself.
See Into Temptation soon and get the word out. It’s a great movie that showcases the city and its talent better than anything that’s come out in a long time.