Latest Posts


(Check out Chris Reed’s Chronicles of a Wandering Saint movie review, the film startsits theater rollout Friday, June 28. Seen it? Join the conversation with HtN on our Letterboxd Page.)

Death may be no cause for joy, but sometimes the absurdities of our existence no doubt follow us into the Stygian gloom of the afterlife. Best to make the most of our time on Earth, for who knows what truly happens when we die. In Chronicles of a Wandering Saint, Argentinian director Tomás Gómez Bustillo makes his feature debut with a simultaneously amusing and affecting tale about the things that matter most, in the here and now and forevermore. Gentle humor tinged with melancholy defines his approach to the material, and that proves a winning combination.

The aging-but-still-vibrant Rita (Mónica Villa, Wild Tales) is a deeply religious person who derives enormous satisfaction from showing off her piety. That’s not to say she is consumed by performative fervor, but rather that church is an important part of her life and she wants everyone to know it. She spends her days cleaning around the place—which often involves shooing away a dog (who will later play a crucial role) with a penchant for getting in her way—and praying with her fellow septuagenarian women, frenemies who love to judge each other over small hypocrisies.

At home, she has her devoted husband, Norberto (Horacio Marassi, Tiempo de Pagar), whom she often neglects, yet who never ceases to love her. When Rita discovers an abandoned statue inside a church storeroom, she drafts Norberto into a plan to convert it into a replica of a long-lost sculpture of Santa (aka Saint) Rita, so enamored is she at the thought of a miracle happening in her community. If she has to tweak events to make that miracle happen, so be it.

As things turn out, however, the movie takes a turn for the completely unexpected at 36 minutes in, Gómez Bustillo playfully bringing up end credits even though the narrative still has a little under 50 minutes to go. I won’t divulge any specific plot spoilers, but a principal character meets an untimely demise. Sad? For sure. But also fairly funny.

From there, the movie launches into an often-delightful satire that spoofs our expectations of heaven (and hell, since it seems that angels and devils work hand in hand here), combined with deep melancholy over that which is lost. It seems that the puerile temptations that plague us when alive do not vanish once we cross over. Choices still abound; make the wrong one, and you could remain stuck in limbo.

But the definition of right and wrong is not the same for everyone, and our dearly departed must decide what is best for them. In that process, they find redemption for earlier petty behavior. And we discover the joy of watching them stumble, then stand upright. There is quiet wonder in both the laughter and tears.

– Christopher Llewellyn Reed (@ChrisReedFilm)

Hope Runs High Films; Chronicles of a Wandering Saint  movie; Tomás Gómez Bustillo

Liked it? Take a second to support Hammer to Nail on Patreon!
Become a patron at Patreon!

Christopher Llewellyn Reed is a film critic, filmmaker, and educator. A member of both the Online Film Critics Society (OFCS) and the Washington DC Area Film Critics Association (WAFCA) and a Rotten Tomatoes-approved film critic, he is: lead film critic at Hammer to Nail; editor at Film Festival Today; formerly the host of the award-winning Reel Talk with Christopher Llewellyn Reed, from Dragon Digital Media; and the author of Film Editing: Theory and Practice. In addition, he is one of the founders and former cohosts of The Fog of Truth, a podcast devoted to documentary cinema.

Post a Comment

Website branding logosWebsite branding logos