Saint Ralph (2004)—Canadian
This film won several festival awards, and is fine as some Friday night fluff, but it did not work for me. Saint Ralph wavers between the inspirational, the cute, and some serious coming of age issues; trying to do all three fails. Ralph Walker is a likeable trouble maker in the ninth grade at an oppressive Catholic boarding school. He cheats, lies, smokes, curses, underachieves, and enjoys his raging hormones. His father died in the war (the film is set in 1953), his mother lies deathly sick in a coma (although you would never know it because she looks quite beautiful), and if he is expelled from the school he is orphaned. He learns in his religion class that performing a miracle requires faith, prayer, and purity, and so he sets out to run the Boston Marathon in order to effect a miracle for his dying mother. Sub plots with a girl friend and a teacher-priest who just happens to have been a marathoner as a young man add little. I did not find Saint Ralph even remotely believable, nor did I appreciate that Catholicism was presented in the worst possible light. The headmaster is a cardboard character who, yes, is a sick tyrant. Ralph has several visitations from God who appears to him in the form of Santa Claus. You can watch to see if Ralph gets the miracle of a marathon victory, and whether this redounds to his mother's healing; just don't set your expectations too high.