Last night, I went to my first opening night for a film festival and saw Saint John of Las Vegas, which opened CineVegas. I’m not much into all the fanfare that surrounded the premier. There was a crowd of people outside the theater all taking pictures. I couldn’t see over the crowd to see who they were taking pictures of, so I just shrugged and went into the theater to get a good seat.
The film was good but not great. Very entertaining but ultimately pretty slight. Steve Buscemi plays an man with a gambling addiction who moves from Vegas to New Mexico to run from a streak of bad luck. He works for an insurance company and gets a chance for a promotion to the fraud detection arm of the company. His first investigation sends him back to Vegas.
Romany Malco plays the fraud detection expert that Buscemi teams up with and the contrast between Malco’s serious Virgil and Buscemi’s dishelved John provides the most interest. Sarah Silverman plays Buscemi’s co-worker and love interest and that relationship is played mainly for laughs.
The film is partly inspired by Dante’s Inferno but that association is pretty loose and a bit heavy handed. John’s last name is Alighieri. There is a character named Lou Cipher. And in case you don’t catch that joke the first time, Buscemi’s John repeats the name 3 times for you when he first meets him.
Overall, Saint John of Las Vegas is very entertaining and often laugh-out-loud funny. The acting is top notch and the production belies it’s low budget origins. The film is the first feature film by Hue Rhoodes and has enough going for it that one can look forward to his future work.