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Ordinary Sinner


Ordinary Sinner


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Ordinary Sinner marks the feature debut of director John Henry Davis, screenwriter William Mahone, and producer J.B. White, three middle-aged college buddies who've worked in varying show-business capacities off and on for a couple of decades. Their collective age and experience may explain why Ordinary Sinner is more story-focused than most low-budget independent films; it's not some disjointed character piece, style exercise, or grubby crime saga. Ordinary Sinner is instead a painfully earnest film about friendship, fear, and crises of faith. Brendan P. Hines plays a seminary dropout who moves to a Vermont college town to be close to old friend Kris Park. While he's sorting out what to do with his life, Hines starts a relationship with Park's platonic girlfriend (Elizabeth Banks), and has long conversations with the town's Episcopalian priest (A. Martinez). Then a series of local gay-bashing attacks directly affects one of Hines' confidantes, and sends him on a quest for the culprits–a quest inspired in part by the incident that drove him away from religion in the first place. In spite of a little bit of sex and a lot of strong profanity, Ordinary Sinner is pretty reminiscent of an old Afterschool Special. Davis, Mahone, and White confront intolerance and fear head-on, with a functional, unspectacular style heavy on sensitive piano-and-flute music cues to indicate when someone feels hurt. And though the film's depiction of a small liberal-arts college campus is truer and more fleshed out than sensationalist trash like The Rules Of Attraction, the dialogue, the characters, and the treatment of organized religion are too broad to serve as anything more than bullet points for the filmmakers' lecture. Ordinary Sinner is the kind of movie that has Hines visibly hesitating before he steps into a church for the first time in years. Later, he indicates his grief by painting the walls of his room black. By the end of the film, when he's cheered up again, Hines and his pals show their joy by spraying each other with hoses. With hoses.