Local Film “Into Temptation” Opens to Acclaim

It’s time to call it a second golden age of Minnesota filmmaking.

The first was in the early 1990s, when Walter Matthau and Jack Lemmon were grumping around Wabasha, Christian Slater was finding love in a Minneapolis cafe, the Mighty Ducks were shredding ice in Edina, and the Coen Brothers were leaving a trail of dead from here to Fargo. In the last few years, however, we’ve had an arguably better crop of movies emerge from Minnesota minds than ever before: “Sweetland,” “Juno,” “Gran Torino,” the yet-to-be-released “A Serious Man,” and, opening this week, “Into Temptation,” an earnest but clever look at priestly life, shot in and around Minneapolis.

This time around, the focus is on more or less on screenwriting (essentially because the state has defunded the Minnesota Film and TV Board and its Snowbate program that might convince filmmakers to shoot here). But “Into Temptation” was filmed here and, like “Sweetland” and “Gran Torino,” resonates with crisp, clear writing that digs deeply into a culture–in this case, the modern priesthood–without sensationalism or didacticism. In other words, wholly original. Call it the Minnesota style: smart, not smarmy.

One could easily have imagined Al Pacino chewing the scenery here as the priest who hears the confession of a young prostitute determined to kill herself and decides to find her, even if he has to bend a few priestly rules. Instead, we have “Law and Order’s” fine Jeremy Sisto. And where a Hollywood production might have cast some celebrity actress eager to be taken seriously as the prostitute (Angelina Jolie comes to mind), we have the stage actress Kristin Chenoweth, who’d been touring with “Wicked.” Both take their work more seriously than their egos, and serve to deliver this thoughtful yet suspenseful movie from the temptations of Hollywood.

The movie premieres tonight at the Edina Theater and begins a run at the Lagoon Theater this weekend.

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