The Penitent Man was directed and written by Nicholas Gyeney and stars Lathrop Walker, Lance Henriksen, Andrew Keegan, Melissa Roberts, and Adrien Gamache. It's about a therapist having to deal with the knowledge from a patient that the future may be far worse than he could've imagined.
The Plot: Taking a page from The Man from Earth, the movie tries to deal with accepting the impossible. Jason (Walker) is a therapist that can hardly make ends meet for himself and his wife Evelyn (Roberts). Between his many hours waiting on things to get better, one of his few clients, Mr. Darnell (Henriksen) comes to him to talk. Darnell tells of a time in the future that opened the past, delivering a message of the seemingly inevitable. Jason is unsure of the tale and speaks with his friend Ovid (Keegan) and must decide how to act upon the information, or to act at all. It's a cracking idea but it's not refined as many of the details feel extraneous and some odd character decisions cause for confusion than legitimate question.
The Characters: Some great character work is presented but all of the good stuff is handed to Darnell, leaving main character Jason limp. Jason is having a rough go of it: a failing marriage, uncertainty about his job, and no family left. Aside from occasional references to other events in his life, there's too much weight just to get his character to have a reason to listen to Darnell's talk of time travel and future failure. Ovid and Evelyn are just here to ground Jason in some reality. Darnell is the star here, a man wishing for change, his story is mostly interesting: he found a way to peer into the objective past without changing it, which seemed to be the next step forward but became a backwards free-fall. His personal life was destroyed and he only wants to tell someone about the future so at least one person will be prepared.
The Drama: It seems like the Penitent Man wanted to be a dramatic mystery but it drops the ball as soon as the opening credits finish by showing Darnell using his creation to travel back in time; so any question is struck down before it can be posed. A good chunk of the scenes between Jason and Darnell are spent doing some explanations about wormholes and black holes and the like, and while they're interesting; they don't hold up like the more significant scenes debating Darnell's story. The way that Darnell presents his case, purporting to have discovered a way to use what he'd found and how everything came back to haunt him is fantastic but the frequent interjections from Jason come off as redundant since he essentially parrots Darnell. Phenomenal drama is here, but it's covered in a layer of dusty, dry dialogue, waiting to come out.
The Technics: A lack of consistency lands a hard blow to the Penitent Man's look as well as its dramatic impact. There seems to be a different series of angles within each section of Darnell's talk with Jason which are broken up with Jason talking to Ovid every ten-ish minutes and then returns to Darnell's session where everything is shot differently than the last time the movie was there. It throws things off and feels like there was a gap between filming. The soundtrack is also inconsistent, sometimes there's a pleasant layering of background percussive instruments and violins and other times the music is overbearing and competes with the dialogue. When the scenes are shot well and the sound editing is proper, the movie is great; but when that's not the case it hurts.
A classic case of a mixed bag, the Penitent Man does offer some great scenes that coast on Henriksen's strong performance, but more faults than i can breeze past. There's a great movie here, but not in this cut.
Review by TheRadiobox from the Internet Movie Database.