ninth symphony films - movie reviews

THE ORDER (2003)

DIRECTOR  -  brian helgeland

RATED  -  r

GENRE  -  drama

LENGTH  -  102 minutes

RELEASED  -  5 september 2003

DISTRIBUTOR  -  20th century fox

OFFICIAL SITE  -  the order

ESTIMATED BUDGET  -  $38,000,000
the order - a shot from the film


buy the dvd from the order at

buy the dvd from the order at

a member of a remote sect of catholic priests becomes embroiled in a supernatural murder mystery.

vincent cassel had originally been cast as william eden but left the production after three weeks due to "creative differences."


picture from the order

picture from the order

picture from the order


one out of four possible stars

The Order has elements of a horror film, a suspense film, and a love story, but while it includes a dash of all those "genres," it would probably best be described as a thriller. Though the thrills do not exactly slam one back in one's seat immediately after the opening credits finish their run. The film isn't a very long one, so the slow beginning can be forgiven by the end, when the film does pick up the pace sufficiently to make it easy to keep one's attention on the screen.

Mimicking the cast choices from 2001's A Knight's Tale, The Order stars the same three people in the film's leading roles. Heath Ledger plays "Alex," a conflicted priest who is part of the fringe "Carolingian" order of priests. Mark Addy plays another priest in the order who supports Ledger in his quest to find the killer of their mentor. And Shannon Sossamon plays "Mara," a woman once held in a mental institution who happens to be in love with Ledger. Joining the cast in another major role is German actor, Benno Fürmann, who plays the role of "Sin Eater," William Eden. The cast is not large, but each actor plays his or her part very well and it's partly due to their abilities that the film becomes an interesting one late in its running time.

With the slow beginning, it would be easy to dismiss this picture, but strong performances across the board make it an easy task to become engaged in the characters' outcomes. Often cast as characters with a great deal of maturity, Ledger again must put on his "forty year old in a twenty year old's body" coat for the role, and he does so with relative ease. He seems to understand how to project his emotions visibly without having to rely solely on the dialogue, and since the dialogue is usually very good, his character is more than just interesting.

With but a few exceptions of "on the nose" dialogue that could have been cut in the editing room or revealed through action, Brian Helgeland (who wrote and directed the picture) created his usual thought-provoking dialogue. The usual recipient of the less-than-stellar bits of dialogue (of which there are only a few) is Sossamon, whose character is sometimes too mono-syllabic. But on the whole, the dialogue and characters all exist with enough life to allow them to endear themselves to the audience without much effort on the audience's part.

The film probably could have benefited from some additional tying up of loose ends at the close though, as the ending is somewhat abrupt and a few bits of dialogue and plot information seems swept under the carpet by the end. At 102 minutes, the film could have stood some additional minutes thrown in to explain away or complete some of those loose ends (which I will not name specifically so as not to include spoilers). Even with the slow beginning, the movie wouldn't have been an endurance test by any means if the ending had been extended or if those dangling parts of the plot had been sewn up in scenes before the end.

If one were to concentrate mainly on Ledger's character, who is, by all accounts, the lead actor, the film ends with his story completed, but if people begin to dig too deep into what they've just seen, they might find themselves questioning a few missing bits of info that slipped through the editor's hands in post-production.

But given that the film clips along at a fine rate by the third and final act, one can't really fault the filmmakers for choosing pace over plot. Test audiences might have made comments on the length of the picture (if indeed those parts of the plot had been included in the film to begin with), causing the editor to make some drastic cuts near the end, but the film certainly doesn't fall over without these bits of information.

What viewers will be treated to in The Order is a film dealing with an interesting and not often touched upon subject that is handled with superior acting skills and dialogue delivery by the stars and an interesting combination of alternative orchestral score (it seems to be wholly without the violin section) and dark cinematography.

Review by Kelsey Wyatt.

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