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Director Danny Boyle veers sharply away from the heroin addicts and zombies of such films as “Trainspotting” and “28 Days Later” to give us this movie from the feel-good school of U.K. filmmaking.

A young boy, Damian (Alex Etel), moves to Manchester, England with his big brother and dad in the wake of his mother’s death.   Although his new school chums’ heroes are all footballers, Damian’s are of a rather different order: he is obsessed with the historic Catholic saints, and comic versions of them appear to him in visions.  

It’s the eve of the U.K.’s transfer from the pound to the Euro.   All cash must be spent or converted or it becomes rubbish.   A train carrying bags of pounds marked for destruction is robbed and one of the bags is pitched off the hurtling train to plunk down near Damian’s play area by the tracks.   He determines to do with the cash what the saints would –  give it to the poor.   Big trouble ensues.  

The film observes that only a small child would attempt to actually act according to the teachings of the saints in the real world.   It doesn’t ask us to share Damian’s outlook despite our adult objections, so much as it represents in its very form a sincere attempt to fully open itself to his guileless imagination and sense of wonder.   It’s as though Boyle make a conscious decision to embrace this material with “defenses down, with the trust of a child”, if I may quote Peter Gabriel.  

There are a moments when the child-like crosses the line into the child-ish, but the movie is suffused with such a playful and inventive spirit and has such a light comic touch that I was disarmed.   It is the most good-hearted film I’ve seen in some time.

- Apr 10, 2005


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