Friday, February 02, 2007
If that kid can do it...
Whoville's local library has a small selection of English dvds. I popped in there the other day because it's next to the Cornerstone Cafe (free wireless -- no strings attached) and I wanted to pick up a copy of the first Harry Potter book. On my way out I scanned over the dvds and didn't see much except for this Canadian film, Saint Ralph. My intentions are always to try and see Canadian films in their first weekend of release since so much is based on how the film does in its first weekend. However, Saint Ralph got missed and then put off etc etc.
The second reason I picked up this film is because I was looking for inspiration for running. A minor hip injury has slowed my training and D. (the coach) has been telling me I've got nothing to worry about, but I still wanted to watch a movie about running that would inevitably situate the hero in a story where he would have to overcome many obstacles in order to achieve his running goal. And that is essentially what Saint Ralph is about.
Set in the 1950s, Ralph (Adam Butcher) is a teenager in a Catholic boys school and is not doing well as a student. As punishment for his many transgressions, he's forced to join the running club, coached by Father Hibbert (Cambell Scott). Ralph lives alone in his house, pretending that his grandparents are taking care of him while his mother is in the hospital. She has either undergone surgery to remove a tumor or is sick from some sort of cancer. It's never explained. When she slips into a coma, Ralph is told it will take a miracle to bring her out of it. He decides that the miracle will be his winning the Boston marathon. He then attempts to enlist the athletic and the holy to help him train and pray for his goal.
The film gets a little too sappy at the end, but it is effective and doesn't feel too fake in its efforts. The story is a little thin and much is left out of the plot that could have been put in to fill in some of the gaps. At times it feels very amateur in its performances, and sometimes it's the younger actors and sometimes its the awkwardness of the writing itself. There is one very good scene between Campbell Scott (Father Hibbert) and Gordon Pinsent (Father Fitzpatrick) that is a discussion about Ralph going to Boston, but is really about the struggle between the younger and older generation and the radical and traditional in Catholicism. Furthermore, it's a scene with two very fine actors really giving it all for the scene. While it's not the biggest moment in the film or the most relevant, it is very strong and it is fully played out while other scenes in the film aren't always completely realized. I often try to apply the "get into the scene as late as possible and get out as early as possible" to my writing and Saint Ralph often misses the mark.
Okay, now no one is going to see it after what I've just written. I do recommend it though because it is a "small" film, and there are some genuinely funny moments. Furthermore, as a runner, I appreciated the training and the differing ideas about preparing for a race. And finally, If that kid can do it...