Peter T. Chattaway wrote a thoughtful, observant review of the new movie called The Last Sin Eater this week at Christianity Today Movies.
Just as a Christian car mechanic should be concerned with the technical condition of a car, so a film critic should concern himself with the technical condition of a car. Peter is a Christian … has been for as long as he’s been writing, and longer, and has been a vital part of evangelical-Christian dialogue for years. In the interest of encouraging excellence in filmmaking, even “Christian filmmaking,” he did his job and published this review.
Here’s a snippet:
The film suffers from pedestrian direction, but it benefits from decent performances, especially where its young star, Liana Liberato, is concerned. As a window into an older culture, or an evening’s entertainment with the family, you could certainly do worse. Just don’t be surprised when the movie starts preaching to the converted—that is, to the fellow believers who will undoubtedly make up the bulk of its audience.
And then, on a Christian radio program, the director had a few words to say about that review. [EDIT: The talk-show host agreed with him. He was not “won over,” as I stated erroneously before, but in fact the talk show host became convinced on his own that Peter’s review was not only wrong, but that it was evidence of an “anti-evangelical agenda” at Christianity Today. Quite an accusation. But let’s back up… the director began his comments with a rather audacious claim: that Peter hasn’t really ever sat down to talk with real Christians.
If any of you out there can identify for me the basis of that claim… or explain to me the basis of the claim that Christianity Today’s movie reviewers have an “anti-evangelical agenda,” I’d appreciate it. Because I know most of these folks, as they’re as evangelical as they come. In fact, they are driven by a desire to see excellence in artmaking for the glory of God, and they are zealous to acknowledge and celebrate God’s truth wherever they find it, even in the work of secular filmmakers.
What’s an example of a film that
A) is made with excellence, and
B) portrays Christian faith in a positive light
I think Chariots of Fire, Junebug, A Man for All Seasons, Dead Man Walking, The Second Chance, and Sophie Scholl: The Final Days spring to mind as great examples.
Does The Last Sin Eater qualify? Or is it another example of Christian filmmaking that packs a heavy message in a mediocre package?
Is Landon right? Is the CT review way off base?
Martin’s got an insightful comment below.
And Peter Chattaway has responded to Landon Jr. and to the talk-show host. I think he’s right on target.