Wednesday, January 24, 2007

THE LIVES OF THE SAINTS - three chavs and a baby

Six times seven is forty-nine!Maybe, just maybe, with an experienced and talented cast and crew, something as bonkers as THE LIVES OF THE SAINTS might have come off. But this low-budget British flick is badly acted, badly photographed, badly edited, badly scripted and lacking in coherent vision. The camerawork is replete with little tricks that destract from the tale and the editing (sound and visuals) is so rough it calls attention to itself.

Half the time, it's a low-rent Guy Ritchie-style East-End gangster flick. The other half of the time it's a sort of magic realist spiritual movie about a spooky little kid who can see into the future and makes everyone's dreams come true, sort of. Neither half comes off convincingly although the gangster theme plays better than the spiritual. That's thanks to an outrageous piece of acting from an unrecognisable James Cosmo as local boss Mr Karva. He makes bold choices and 90% of the time you're laughing with him rather than at him. The supernatural side of the film just had me praying for the end-credits. Gillian Kearney in particular has to sell a very difficult plot strand which sees a religious woman believe that a drunken adult is the reincarnation of her son. Her accent is uneven but not as cracked as the dialogue she is asked to deliver.

What a mess! And a great disappointment given that it was penned by man who gave us the screenplays for BROTHERS OF THE HEAD and TIDELAND. Still, there's a lot to be said for Chris Cottam and Rankin having the balls to bring something this ambitious, if flawed, to the screen as a first feature.

THE LIVES OF THE SAINTS played London 2006 and opens in the UK on Friday.


  1. Got blood?

    Would love your thoughts on that.

  2. Hey Flint, good to see you back. Apparently I can't comment on your post coz I don't have a wordpress account. To cut it short, and to sound pretentious: I think Park Chan Wook deals in the same currency as Shakespeare in Hamlet. It's the difficulty of reconciling a Spanish style revenge drama with a Christian desire for forgiveness, closure and some sort of empathy. In Lady Vengeance, say, the lead character wants to organise a bloody revenge on behalf of all the agrieved parents. But she also wants a sort of redemption - note the final scene where she plunges her head into the viginal white tofu. The greatness of Hamlet is the tension between a rational humanism and our bloodier, more primitive lusts. This is the central tragedy and drama of modern life: to live in a our world of legal codes, political correctness and therapy, when at some base level all we really want to do is put the scissors in the neck of our aggressor.