Images in this post may contain affiliate links which, if a purchase is made from those sites, I may earn money or products from the company.
With the death of one boy comes a baby and many lives changed forever, and this film is about the guilt which inspires many people’s decisions over the course of 9 months.
Characters & Story
On New Year’s Eve in 1987, two children’s lives changed forever. Teddy (Avan Jogia) died, and Jude (Asa Butterfield) and Eliza (Hailee Steinfeld) have to live with the guilt and consequences of that night. Which isn’t solely them both playing a role in his death, with Eliza giving him cocaine and Jude having him huff Freon, among other things, but the fact he left a baby in Eliza’s belly.
Thus being the main plot of the film. One dealing with everyone’s guilt over what they did or didn’t do for Teddy; what they didn’t do for their own children; and everyone trying to use that baby as some means of redemption. All the while, Jude tries to mend things with his father Les (Ethan Hawke), and Johnny (Emile Hirsch) tries to be there for Teddy’s and perhaps convince himself he is something he isn’t.
Perhaps the beauty of this film is that as much as it has the opportunity to be over the top, considering it features drug users, upper-middle-class New Yorkers, and a small town in Vermont, it is rather tame. Granted, watching Jude and Teddy do drugs like they did seemed strange, but only because it really did seem like, at first, the film was going to be about two high school guys trying to get laid, do drugs, and slack off into finals.
However, with the death of Teddy comes a slight shock to the system, alongside Eliza being pregnant. And while there aren’t any strong emotional moments, in terms of Eliza contemplating an abortion, or seeing Jude and his dad bond, at the same time every moment feels quite satisfying. For, overall, it has the feel of a television program. One which, if ABC Family actually ever planned for their shows to end, would fit just right on the channel. I mean, they would probably have to tone down, or eliminate, the drug use but otherwise, 10000 Saints would have been a good miniseries.
And the reason I say the movie would have been a good mini-series is because it drops the ball on so many storylines. For one, despite Les pretty much abandoning Jude and his sister Prudence (Nadia Alexander), pretty much only Jude gets any quality time with his dad. Thus leaving Prudence without her own time to address how she felt about her dad leaving, much less taking up all this time with Jude and not even calling her. Alongside that, while Teddy’s death is a well-established turning point, it is weird we never hear what happened to his mom after the funeral. Much less, it is sort of weird that when Johnny, Teddy’s brother, learns that Eliza and Teddy played a role in his brother’s death, his whole “namaste” way of being completely leads to not a bit of ill will against either of them.
Though the ball being dropped doesn’t end there. There is also the topic of Jude being adopted, and him never looking for his parents, despite Les letting him know they are somewhere in New York, and the film having a scene in the hospital where he is born; us not getting to know Ravi, Teddy’s dad, who wants to possibly adopt Eliza’s baby, to make up for not being in Teddy’s life; and there are a slew of other stories which really make it seem that this movie had more ideas than it had time, or committed effort.
Overall: TV Viewing
While what is given by 10000 Saints is adequate, all the storylines which never are given any focus sort of handicap the film. For while Steinfeld and Butterfield do keep your attention, with Hawke and Hirsch helping, there are times when it seems there are roads not traveled that certainly should have been. Especially the one dealing with Jude being adopted for with Eliza so unsure of what she may do with her baby, it seemed like Jude’s discovery of his own parents could have made Eliza’s ultimate decision a bit more meaningful. Alas, many interesting storylines, like that one, are just talked about and not explored, and that is the main reason for this being labeled TV Viewing. The teases are all just too great, and what is ultimately delivered just doesn’t compare to the many possibilities you get presented with or the odd things in the movie which get ignored.