An affably restrained performance by Jeremy Sisto redeems a stilted presentation in Into Temptation, a tale of a pastor’s flirtation with corruption that owes more than a slight debt to several Paul Schrader movies. The permissive, understanding Priest You Want to Know, Sisto’s Father John heads a troubled parish in a run-down neighborhood. When a prostitute (Broadway axiom Kristin Chenoweth, cast against type) confesses that she plans to kill herself, he takes it as his calling to save her, which leads him on an unsensationalized tour through the city’s sex trade.
Despite a pedestrian visual sense, actor-turned-director Patrick Coyle admirably refuses to underline the priest’s feelings, even after introducing the character of a former girlfriend. Father John is so intent on listening to others that his supposedly all-consuming guilt barely registers for anyone else. Scenes of him lifting weights offer a hint that we’re headed for Taxi Driver turf, but the script’s final ironies are more benign (and in context, less convincing). Supplying miracles where small favors would have done, Into Temptation can’t quite decide whether it’s a film about action or about fate.