Eric D. Snider

Rhythm of the Saints

Ah, yes. Yet another Sundance film that takes itself far too seriously, dealing with heavy themes like adolescence, and how much it sucks. Is there no end to the innovative??????

"Rhythm of the Saints" is a standard urban melodrama, given even less interesting treatment than usual. It is about Rena Juarez (Daniella Alonso), a tomboyish 15-year-old Latina in New York's Washington Heights whose very young mother (Sarita Choudhury) has a hairy boyfriend (Ivan Martin) who makes unwelcome advances toward Rena.

Seeking help without just, you know, telling her mom what's going on, Rena turns to Santeria, a voodoo-esque practice that, in the film anyway, is utterly useless. For a while, you think "Rhythm of the Saints" will have an interesting supernatural twist, but then the witchcraft is relegated to the backburner as Rena's friends help her deal with the situation in a far more dramatic, more ordinary manner.

Cyn Canel Rossi's script has more than its share of hackish dialogue, and it engages in too much hand-wringing over the woes of childhood. The director, first-timer Sarah Rogacki, displays little ambition or intuition, letting her actors -- most of them apparently rather talented -- fumble through their awkward dialogue without enthusiasm. It's a film to be forgotten. D

Grade: D

Rated R, a lot of harsh profanity, some violence

1 hr., 25 min.

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