Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Ten Thousand Saints (2015) never feels real

Jude is a high school kid in Vermont who spends his time getting high any way he can. When his friend Teddy dies after a night of huffing Jude ends up in New York where his dad had taken up with a rich woman.Hooking up with Teddy's brother and the daughter of his father's girlfriend he navigates his way through the lower East Side in the late 1980's.

You ever watch a movie and go "Almost,not quite" and you know that the not quite part means the film doesn't work? That's this film.

The devil is in the details

I suppose the easiest way of explaining whats wrong with the film is that the whole thing feels like dress up. Never mind that the actors never fully disappear into their characters the film's costumes and sets feel dressed and not organic. Its as if the costume and set people took pictures of the period and then tied to match them without making them feel organic- street scenes are of New York except that the dirt and debris of the time doesn't go past certain point. Piles of trash aren't dirty, items left in the street show no sign of ever being used. Cars are parked like in a movie and not in New York. Its a minor thing.

Going further on and talking about the actors, no one feels like they are in the time or in their character. I'm watching the characters act and behave but none of it feels real or right. Jude's mom in her glass blowing shop seems to be from the late 60's and not the 80's.  The actors walk around the sets not as if they are in their world but striding across sets. Things transpire and when things happen, say Hailee Steinfeld announcing she's pregnant it feels like she's going to stand up when the take is done and ask if it was a good take. There is a scene where her mom, Jude and Jude's dad are sitting around discussing what to do and it plays way too clinically. There is no emotion. If a meeting of that type was called at that time there would have been some sort of emotion going on, not the detachment I felt.

And then there are the smaller things like how radio sounded being wrong.

I freely admit that getting hung up on the small stuff is wrong- but if you can't create a world that's believable the story your telling never rings true.  If it never rings true you don't get emotionally connected and the coming of age story falls flat. I can see that the underlying story is good , the problem is the people telling it do it poorly- kind of like when my niece was three or four and tried to explain cartoons to me- I knew what she was going for,and she almost told it - thats like this film- I know what they were going for and they almost made it...

I know this review makes it sound awful but it's not- it's just not as good as it should be.

If you're a fan of the book or the subject interests you give it ago other wise take a pass.

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