Published Apr 01, 2005Equal parts sweet, quirky and cheesy, Saint Ralph is the story of a fatherless teenager's quest to cure his mother of her comatose state by performing a miracle, in the form of winning the Boston Marathon at the age of 14. Set in Hamilton, Ontario in the early 1950s, Ralph attends a Catholic school run by the tyrannical Father Fitzpatrick (Gordon Pinsent) who punishes Ralph by forcing him to join the cross-country team. Ralph enlists the help of the coach, Father Hibbert (Campbell Scott), to get him in shape to win and fulfil his miracle-making dream.
This is a typically Canadian "coming of age" story that's more bizarre and less obviously grand and heroic than its American counterpart would be. Ralph (as played by Adam Butcher, with a surprising breadth of emotional range) is a skinny, weird, troublemaking kid with out of control sexual urges and the Catholic guilt and repression to match.
Director McGowan's occasional stabs at a magic realist style throughout the film are a little too cute, but the rest is well-handled, especially in capturing the appeal of running. The acting is certainly fine but the script has a lot of stilted dialogue that even the actors cannot overcome. (Alliance Atlantis)