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Hollywood Meets Homeschooling: A Saint in Hiding

THE POWER of film to engage the heart and mind for the good is tremendous, and faithful Catholics who can skillfully employ the filmmaker’s techniques to edify and instruct are now able bring the truths of the faith and a spirit of devotion to countless souls who might not otherwise be inclined to pick up a catechism or a saint’s biography.

For this reason, I was delighted to view a new movie by Hannah Petrizzi, A Saint in Hiding.

The outline of the story is simple, and based on an incident in the life of St. John Marie Vianney. When he was a young seminarian, the French government illegally attempted to draft him into the army. There was a mixup that prevented him from reporting for duty on time, so he was classed as a deserter and went into hiding, where he was helped by a sympathetic family. The war soon ended, the government pardoned deserters, and the young saint went on to complete his studies for the priesthood.

Not much in the way of a plot, you might say. But this is where the filmmaker’s skill comes in.

It starts with the writing. The exposition for the background to the story is natural, which is hard to get right. Ditto for most of the dialogue. It seems natural, unforced and moves the story along.

So too, the great variety of visual angles and perspectives Miss Petrizzi employs. You get the impression that she knows a lot about the many tools in the director’s toolkit, and that she has the knack for picking exactly the right one. The cutting and assembling of the different shots into a whole is smooth and assured.

The resulting visual ensemble shows considerable technical sophistication.

The costumes are simple and produce just the right effect. As for sets, well, you’re clearly in suburban Virginia, but that juxtaposition only emphasizes the timelessness of a story about Divine Providence and charity to those in need.

Then there’s the cast: Simon Petrizzi plays the young saint with a demeanor that is appropriately humble, simple and reserved. Siblings Regina, Collette, Jude and Hannah form the rest of the cast, with the first three appearing in multiple roles as both good guys and bad guys. The acting is natural and unaffected.

The film is short (about 21 minutes), and would be a perfect supplement for a grade school religion class.

But don’t think that the only reason to watch it is edification.

A Saint in Hiding is cute, funny, sweet and charming, fun to watch as well as edifying. It’s Hollywood meets homeschooling!

Please spread the word!