Tempting Fate: Patrick Coyle Film ‘Into Temptation’ Delivers Gritty Tale of a Working Girl and an Idealistic Priest in Search of Redemption
Yet another Nebraskan in Film doing laudable work is writer-director and sometime actor Patrick Coyle, a Minneapolis-based filmmkaer whose 2009 indie feature Into Temptation avoided all sorts of pitfalls in telling the story of a working girl and an idealistic priest in search of redemption. I wrote the following short piece in the midst of the film doing gangbusters business at the Dundee Theatre in our shared hometown of Omaha. According to Coyle the film did well wherever it played in limited release. I am anxious to see what he does next.
©by Leo Adam Biga
Originally published in The Reader (www.thereader.com)
Native Omahan Patrick Coyle’s small indie feature Into Temptation has taken the Dundee Theatre by storm. Packed houses led to an extended run. That followed boffo business in his adopted hometown Minneapolis, where he’s a fixture on the theater/commercial film scene.
Coyle didn’t set out to make a religious film. But his steeped-in Catholicism story of redemption for a world-weary prostitute intent on killing herself and an idealistic priest obsessed with saving her is an old-school message picture. Its depiction of flawed but basically good people caught up in classic moral dilemmas is remindful of the dramatic anthology television series Insight.
It’s a mature, honest film about real, human struggles. Any skepticsm about organized religion is balanced by an affection for people and institutions trying to do the right thing and not always succeeding.
Coyle finds the pic well-received wherever it plays, including both coasts. He said, “I think the film is tapping much more of a cultural vein than a religious or a spiritual vein. It’s really resonating with the Catholic culture. That’s gratifying because just in my own huge extended family there’s practicing Catholics, fallen-away Catholics, members of the clergy, and they all have a unique angle on the film they appreciate.” He concedes the film’s “spiritual hook” either grabs you or doesn’t. The Catholic perspective is inevitable, said Coyle, as that experience “courses through my blood and it’s in my marrow — that’s who I am.”
The project once had a Hollywood producer, who pulled the plug a week from shooting. Just as well, said Coyle, who was pressured to adopt “a more formulaic Hollywood ending…and, boy, just everything I was aspiring to in that story went away for me.” Still, having the deal blow up “was pretty devastating,” he said. “Then after I got over my disappointment I saw an opportunity here to do it myself. I started the whole process over, raising the money one investor at a time. It’s how I did my first film” (the 2000 Sundance entry Detective Fiction).
The best thing about starting from scratch, he said, “was I got to go back to what I thought was pure and truthful about my original script, and so I put my ending back on.” If there’s a recurring theme in his work, Coyle said, it’s “forgiveness. It’s nothing conscious, but that seems to wiggle itself out of my subconscious.” Like Detective, Coyle shot Temptation in Minneapolis, drawing on its strong theater community to complement strong leads Jeremy Sisto (Law & Order) and Kristin Chenoweth (Pushing Daisies). Getting A-list actors was a coup.
“I happened to find a couple actors that were looking to do something during a hiatus from television and they wanted something they could chew on and stretch a little, and I guess my script fit the bill.”
Though not set here Temptation is replete with Omaha references. “Omaha kind of appears in everything I write,” Coyle said. “I actually have a screenplay called The Public Domain that I’d very much like to shoot in Omaha.”
Unlike fellow Creighton Prep product Alexander Payne, Coyle did not grow up wanting to make films but to play professional baseball. Yet he loved books and films and whiled away his youth at the Dundee Theatre. The University of Nebraska at Omaha grad was an English Lit and theater geek. “I feel like I got a great education at UNO because I was always acting, writing, directing.” He appeared on stage “about everywhere you could work here” before leaving town at 23.
He said having his film play to appreciative crowds at his old neighborhood theater “is very gratifying.”
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