There’s no amount of emotional distress that macho brooding can’t fix in Least Among Saints, a monotonous drama centered on a PTSD-afflicted Gulf War II soldier’s search for canned redemption. The emotional stakes of writer/director/star Martin Papazian’s feature directorial debut are almost exclusively defined by clichés. Papazian plays Anthony, a testosterone-addled soldier who just can’t get his act together once back home. He’s drunk a lot of the time, suffers from nightmares, and isn’t allowed anywhere within 500 feet of his ex-wife. So, being an alpha male with an Atlas complex, Anthony’s ego-stroking challenge is to rescue Wade (Tristan Lake Leabu), the grade-school-aged son of his irresponsible neighbor. Papazian contorts the events of his drama in such a way that Anthony selflessly overextends himself to teach Wade such values as how to fight back against his bullies and how to master his anger by shooting a gun. There’s nothing but skin-deep warmth to Least Among Saints, a film in which any authority figure who can’t magically sober up and play surrogate daddy for a spell is treated as either a meddler or a well-meaning, do-nothing skeptic. Almost everyone in Anthony’s world is helpless except the new-and-always-improving him, and nobody but Wade can save him from his worst impulses. After myriad deferred glances and a lot of aw-shucks protesting, Anthony inevitably gets his way. If only that were a good thing.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on October 10, 2012