A haunted soldier just back from war and a boy who has never known peace in his home life embark on a life-changing journey as they become unlikely friends -- and one another's last shot at redemption.
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Pilar López de Ayala,
Writer, director and actor Martin Papazian's debut film LEAST AMONG SAINTS movingly illustrates a man's hard-fought road towards reconciling with his better self. Coming home to a broken marriage and uncertain future, veteran Anthony Hayward (Papazian) thinks he's at the end of his rope. But when his troubled ten year-old neighbor, Wade (Tristan Lake Leabu), calls out for help, Anthony can't seem to turn away. To the dismay of the boy's embattled social worker (Laura San Giacomo), Anthony sets out on a fool's quest to help this heartbroken but hard to reach child find his long-lost father, who might not even exist. Yet in the midst of this new mission - the first that seems to matter since his return -- Anthony begins to come to grips with both the costs of war and the universal power of human connection. As the film builds to an emotional climax, Papazian finds both the gravity and the grace in ordinary, flawed characters pushed to extraordinary acts of compassion and decency. Written by
This movie hits the right note with both a compelling story and interesting characters. Writer, director and lead actor Martin Papazian's film packs an emotional punch without being maudlin or making you feel like your emotions have been manipulated.
The story is focused on the young war veteran, but doesn't stray into larger political issues. I found that refreshing in this political season. Instead, this is an intimate portrayal of human struggle, and Papazian imbues the lead character Anthony Hayward with the right level of emotion. Papazian has one of two breakout performances in the film. For me, the best films are those that show believable character development, and Papazian's portrayal is immensely satisfying.
The other performance I loved was by Tristan Lake Leabu who plays 10 year old Wade, Hayward's next door neighbor. I'm convinced Tristan is headed for a stellar career. There's a lot of emotion in his role, and a lesser actor would have over played it. You can see pain, a sense of isolation, and fear in his eyes.
The intimate feel of this film was enhanced by director of photography Guy Skinner and his hand-held camera work, known to most of us from his work on the TV series "24".
At the premier in Santa Monica, Martin Papazian said the story is a composite of experiences told to him by war vets. He listened.
Independent films often don't get noticed because of limited distribution. Moviegoers don't know if a film is worth driving to. If you get a chance, see this film.
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