[Courtesy of Prodigal Films Limited]

Movie Review: In the Land of Saints and Sinners

07:00 April 01, 2024
By: Fritz Esker

In the Land of Saints and Sinners (2023)

One of the pleasures of being a movie critic is telling people about a good movie they might have otherwise not heard about. Director Robert Lorenz's new drama/thriller In the Land of Saints and Sinners is such a film. However, my eagerness to tell readers about it is offset slightly by annoyance that the studio has done little-to-no marketing of it in the United States. I'm usually pretty on top of what movies are being released and when, but I only found out about this when I went to the Elmwood Palace's website to see if there was a new movie I could see that wasn't Godzilla x Kong.

The lack of marketing push is frustrating because In the Land of Saints and Sinners features a well-known star (Liam Neeson) in the lead, a recently Oscar-nominated actress (the excellent Kerry Condon, who was nominated for The Banshees of Inisherin in 2022), and an actor who played one of the most memorable villains on one of the most popular TV shows of the 21st century (Game of Thrones' Jack Gleeson). And the story isn't some snail-paced, esoteric arthouse fare. It's essentially an Irish Western and has mainstream appeal if only audiences knew to look for it.

Neeson plays Finbar, a retired contract killer living in a small Irish village in 1974. He is trying to do something more meaningful with his life in his retirement, but his old habits come back when an IRA cell (led by Condon) hides out in the town after one of their bombs kills even more people than intended.

As mentioned above, the vibe here recalls classic Westerns, albeit in an Irish setting. A hard man returns to violence when a small community is threatened. Neeson brings his usual gravitas to the role of Finbar, and Condon makes for a formidable antagonist. The movie never soft-pedals its characters' actions but they always seem recognizably human. In an era categorized by bloated running times, In the Land of Saints and Sinners runs an economical 106 minutes.

In the Land of Saints and Sinners is a movie that deserves to find an audience and hopefully it does one day.

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