Two wanted women decide to rob their wealthy psychotic friend who lives in the fantasy world they created as children; to take the money they have to take part in a deadly perverse game of make believe.
When the 1989 "one-hit-wonder" glam-metal band "Sonic Grave" embark on a trip to Coachella in hopes of a comeback, their peyote trip pit stop in Joshua Tree incites an "unworldly" viscous attack, and they must "rock" themselves out of harms way.
Saint Judy is a straightforward portrayal of humanity and heart
Saint Judy isn't your typical courtroom drama, eschewing most of the tropes and trimmings that come with this sort of fare. There's no prosecutor shouting at the top of their lungs, frothing at the mouth about injustice. There are no miraculous discoveries of facts right in the nick of time to save the accused. Indeed, its climatic ruling takes place inside of a trailer. This commitment to honest verisimilitude not sets Saint Judy apart from other films about the law, but serve to highlight its sense of humanity, warmth, and do-gooder tenacity in the face of a harsh, jaded and broken criminal justice system.
Michelle Monaghan plays Judy Wood, an Angeleno immigration attorney who takes it upon herself to represent Asefa Ashwari, an Afghan schoolteacher seeking asylum from her own nation, played by Leem Lubany. These two form the beating heart of the film, treating their scenes with a nuanced balance of Wood's optimism and Ashwari's reticence. Alfred Molina plays attorney Ray Hernandez whose law office employs Wood; Molina also executive produced the film. The rest of the supporting cast (Common, Alfre Woodard, Peter Krause, Ben Schnetzer, Mykelti Williamson) give performances just as direct and unshowy, letting the Kafkaesque nightmare of the scenario speak for itself.
Director Sean Hanish and writer Dmitry Portnoy have the right approach for Saint Judy, keeping focus on its characters facing off a world that seeks to dehumanize its most vulnerable. The filmmakers resist the temptation to sermonize, lionize or demonize; they seek only to humanize, sidestepping the usual mythologization one finds in a Hollywood film of this nature. Time and time again, Wood is placed up against the ropes, struggling to balance her family-work-life situation while earning the trust of her client and supporting herself in Los Angeles. The ending does indulge in a bit of schmaltz, reminiscent of those sentimental Hollywood dramas. But the coda is a delight, and a potent reminder of those still fighting the good fight, especially in these troubled times.
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