The Lives Of The Saints

The Lives Of The Saints


Reviewed by: Darren Amner

The Lives of the Saints is a breath of fresh air for the British film industry, which has had its creativity damaged by its own success. It's nice to see an original piece of storytelling emerge from the crop of countless costume dramas and gangster movies it produces year in year out. The Lives of the Saints is a magical fable set within the criminal underworld of Tottenham.

Mr Karva is man who runs the show on the mean streets of North London and forces himself on the community. What he says goes and he has quite a formidable prescence. He is aided by his hired help thugs and a nimble footed courier called Roadrunner who carries out his business errands for him on foot all over town. Karva is also assisted by his step-son Othello, who has his own ambitions of one day being bigger and more successful than his overbearing brute of a step-dad. Othello doesnt always agree with the way in which Karva conducts business and dreams of doing things the right way. He is assisted by his small-minded mate Emilio who is quite the opposite when it comes to aspirations and is quite happy and content just going along for the ride.

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It is when Roadrunner literally comes to a halt en-route to a job that things take a strange turn. He encounters a small, weird, wild looking kid in the park, stopping him dead in his tracks. It's the first time ever he has stopped moving. Shocked by the affect the boy has had on him, he takes his little discovery to Othello's flat and it's then, when Othello finally discovers the boy and takes care of him, that things in the Karva household change dramatically with the power switching to the younger prince.

Thus begins a series of transformations in the community, where the young mute seems to be able to grant people what their hearts desire whenever he is in their company. He is Othello's lucky lottery ticket as he enables him to successfully make money on his own without the help of his father. But it's only a matter of time until Mr Karva discovers where his riches have come from and wants a cut for himself. With everybody pursuing their dreams and the source of inspiration (the kid) things heat up and it's only a matter of time before events take a tragic turn.

The movie is highly ambitious, inventive, and full of witty sharp dialogue and great career making performances. For first time directors Rankin and Cottam it's a great calling card with which to launch their film careers. As you would expect from having a director on board with a background in fashion photography (Rankin), the movie looks great and has a wonderful cinematic feel to it. Taking nothing away from Cottam either the two have crafted a very interesting realistic look at London street life with a fantasy twist that gives it an edge.

Tony Grisoni's script is imaginative, well written and amps up its darkly comic moments, and it's nice to see this isn't just a typical cliche look at the criminal underworld we have seen all too many times previously (stand up Guy Ritchie). It's littered with colourful personalities and the ensemble of inhabitants are given air to breath and flesh out their own individual stories.

David Leon as Othello is one to watch. This young actor works well with Emilio (Bronson Webb) and his girlfriend Tina (Pierson) and the three young actors give very credible performances. Leon displays a versitile range as an under educated young prince who rises to be king and then ultimately falls from grace as greed and confusion cloud his judgement. With power comes arrogance and he loses touch with why he wanted to prove himself in the first place, even once important issues such as friendship and love have taken a backseat in his quest for dominance.

James Cosmo as Karva is a menacing bear onscreen. His voice resonates all round the cinema and when he bellows out orders, you listen - it's hard not to. You really dislike him yet he doesnt kill people left right and centre and thats a real testament to Grisoni's script, which takes a deeper look at the community and its people rather than filling the screen with gangland murder, blood, guts and gore.

I hope this movie gets the attention it deserves. A major reason to go to the movies is to broaden our horizons and The Lives of the Saints is a much needed kiss of life for the British Film Industry. It has a great moral which is be careful what you wish for. I wish the movie great success and fingers crossed it will come true.

Reviewed on: 24 Oct 2006
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A small boy grants wishes, but what should people wish for?
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Gator MacReady **

Director: Chris Cottam, Rankin

Writer: Tony Grisoni

Starring: David Leon, James Cosmo, Emma Pierson, Bronson Webb, Marc Warren, Daon Broni, Gillian Kearney, James Holmes, Sam MacLintock

Year: 2006

Runtime: 97 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: UK


London 2006
EIFF 2006

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