The Orphan Saint | Chicago Reader

The Orphan Saint

This incisive mock TV documentary by Chicago sisters Christina and Dymphna Timmins is set in the fictional town of Asulon, Illinois, which tries to pump up its economy by turning a young woman who's survived a car wreck (Heidi Gottcent) into a saint. The subject matter itself is a subtle comment on the form, promising controversy, miracles, and colorful locals (like the woman who insists she's not a gossip yet keeps files on local residents), and every element is exaggerated enough to verge on parody but authentic enough to maintain the video's critical bite—the improvised dialogue is just a bit too folksy, Ines Sommer's handheld camera a bit too busy, the juxtaposing of alternative viewpoints a bit too conscientious. The real and genuinely corrosive point is that the documentary conventions used to signal truth have become tired artifices and the formulaic quality of such productions turns them into entertainment rather than openings onto the world. 65 min.

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