Least Among Saints: Film Review
Martin Papazian's drama tells the story of a PTSD-afflicted war veteran who finds redemption by helping a troubled young boy.
Delivering a better showcase for himself as an actor than a filmmaker, Martin Papazian is less than a triple threat as the director, writer and star of the overwrought Least Among Saints. Although displaying a commandingly brooding screen presence reminiscent of Jason Patric, he’s unable to rescue this melodrama--about a PTSD-afflicted Gulf War veteran who finds redemption by caring for a troubled young boy--from sinking into a morass of clichés.
Returning home to Tuscon, Arizona after his tours of duty, Anthony (Papazian) has become an embittered drunk, haunted by nightmares and desperately attempting to reconnect with his ex-wife (Audrey Marie Anderson) who’s gotten a restraining order against him. But his essential decency comes to the fore when his next-door neighbor, a drug-addicted prostitute (A.J. Cook), suddenly dies of an overdose, leaving behind a frightened and bereft ten-year-old son, Wade (Tristan Lake Leabu).
Anthony impulsively takes the young boy under his wing, despite the understandable reservations of a sardonic social worker (well played by Laura San Giacomo) who’s apparently too busy to do the basic research that would reveal that the veteran has more than a few legal issues pending. It isn’t long before he’s tutoring the youngster in such budding acts of manhood as physically confronting a school bully and firing a shotgun, with predictably messy results. But it’s when the pair embarks on a road trip to find Wade’s long-absent father that things really get complicated.
Delivering its inspirational messages with a heavy hand—at one point we hear a lecture about the myriad problems facing war veterans delivered by a sympathetic cop (Charles S. Dutton)—Least Among Saints has the strained feel of a basic cable television movie, with modest production values to match.
It all culminates in a predictable if less than credible feel-good conclusion that would go down easier if it wasn’t obvious that the main character has behaved in a manner that should have earned him serious jail time.
Production: Papazian Hirsch Entertainment.
Cast: Martin Papazian, Tristan Lake Leabu, Laura San Giacomo, Charles S. Dutton, Audrey Marie Anderson, A.J. Cook, Azura Skye, Tom Irwin, Taylor Kinney, Lombardo Boyer, Ronnie Gene Blevins.
Director-Screenwriter: Martin Papazian.
Producers: Robert A. Papazian, James G. Hirsch.
Director of photography: Guy Skinner.
Editor: Robert Florio.
Production designer: Peter Wooley.
Costume designer: Jennifer Wolff.
Composer: Gary Lionelli.
Rated R, 105 min.