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The Last Sin Eater 

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In Michael Landon Jr.'s period drama, the latest theatrical release from the FoxFaith distribution company, a Welsh-immigrant community in mid-19th century Appalachia sorts through its faith and secrets. Both take center stage when a troubled young girl (Liana Liberato) seeks out the sin eater, an exile who appears at funerals to take into his own soul the sins of the departed. Somewhere between the pretty scenery and the mish-mash of bad accents, there's the bones of a better story. What's at stake is meaty: Are children truly innocent; can goodness be enforced, and likewise evil ever truly averted; and in what totems and beliefs does a community put its spiritual life. (Sin Eater clearly posits that Christianity is the preferred route, but doesn't the need exist across all faiths?) Unfortunately, Landon just scratches the surface. Even the core of his story -- the idea that only Jesus can eat, or absolve, our sins -- is poorly developed. Starts Fri., Feb. 9. (AH)

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