On the hard street of Haringey, Roadrunner, a petty criminal
who works for the violent Mr Karva, stumbles across a mute
child who he believes to be an angel; he takes him to the
home of Othello, Mr Karva's stepson. When it becomes apparent
that the child can somehow make dreams come true Othello comes
into conflict with his stepfather Karva, who feels that his
criminal influence is being challenged by the child's existence,
though even Karva hopes that the child holds the chance of
his redemption from his sins...
The Lives of the Saints (2006) was directed by Chris Cottam
and Rankin, better know as a renowned photographer and founder
of style magazine Dazed and Confused. The film was
nominated for a Golden Leopard at the 2006 Locarno International
Initially you're thinking: "Oh god. Not another English
gangster film which will disappoint". However, you quickly
realise that this film exists in an altered fantastical reality
which lifts the film up from its nihilistic roots, where even
a touch of heaven holds a hint of hell.
The supposed miracles soon turn to dust. A young mother who
presumes that she has found her long lost stillborn son, though
the audience can seen that he is a wino, looses him once more.
The local priest (Marc Warren) who finds the grace to accept
his sexuality and perform as a drag artist is badly beaten
by homophobes. Even Othello's financial gains drain through
his fingers like sand. The child becomes a focus for the characters
desires, an object to be fought over, in the end it is the
characters greed, rather than the child which tears their
The Lives of the Saints is an interesting, if flawed,
film. The script by Tony Grisoni, who had previously penned
of the Head (2005), Tideland
(2005) and Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1998), uses
faux Shakespearean dialogue which adds to the films overall
feeling of gravitas. The cast is excellent and deliver the
lines with no hint of self-consciousness. James Cosmo steals
the show as the unrepentant bad guy Karva, almost revelling
in his own sense of wickedness. If nothing else, the film
will be remembered for Karva's antics with a blow torch and
his predilection for chucking cats into deep fat fryers.
The fusion of the fantastical and grubby works remarkably
well, though this is not to say that the film is without its
faults. The greatest weakness the film exhibits is its script.
Whilst Cottam and Rankin have no problem making the film visually
entertaining and the cast do a generally sterling job, the
script just doesn't do the film justice. There are far too
many weaknesses, there is not enough character development
and the interrelations of the characters fall short of convincing.
The film boasts a nice print with audio options for stereo,
5.1 and DTS, extras consist of the original theatrical trailer
and a behind the scenes feature.
So, what we have here is a great cinematic opening shot from
Cottam and Rankin, which shows much promise, but could have
done with a tighter script. Not brilliant, but certainly not
a waste of your time either.