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Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Must-see: “Least Among Saints”

Name one happy movie about war veterans.

Time’s up.

From “The Best Years of Our Lives” in 1946 to the Vietnam War’s “Coming Home” and “Born on the 4th of July,”  veterans have been portrayed as troubled, bitter, dangerous and unconscionably scorned.

And often, of course, they are. Politicians love sending young men into battle, but they largely forget about them when they come home broken.

That’s much the case in "Least Among Saints," Martin Papazian’s engrossing portrayal of Anthony, a sensitive Afghanistan war vet haunted by memories of accidentally killing an Afghan family in their car at a Marine roadblock.

With a difference.

Papazian’s film (which he also wrote and directed) plunges quickly into Anthony’s difficult relationships with several people, notably his frustrated ex-wife, a patient local police chief, a sweet-tough social worker, a randy blonde neighbor and her nine year old son--who is quickly orphaned by her death from a heroin overdose.

Opting to care for the boy offers the Anthony a route out of his head, swirling with thoughts of suicide, even if he’s unaware of it. But it’s a tribute to Papazian’s gripping, touching, triumphant script that we can’t be sure how, or even whether, both will survive their twist-filled journey.

If only more veterans got the chance.

“Least Among Saints” (which St. Paul called himself because of his prior sins), is an unforgettably moving homage to veterans who can just...hang...on long enough to make a difference, despite their abandonment by society, because they got a chance.

See it and weep--for joy.