Set in the 1980's, in a pre-cleaned up NYC—you can't miss the graffiti and the grunge and the garbage on the streets—Ten Thousand Saints stars Asa Butterfield as Jude, a teenager whose mother sends him to NYC to live with his father Les (Ethan Hawke) after his best friend Teddy overdoses on drugs. Trouble is dad deals weed and isn't exactly Robert Young in Father Knows Best. Les isn't exactly Hawke's character in Boyhood either—in the book, at least, Les is much more of a real slacker, absent father while his character in Boyhood is a bit of fuck-up but basically well-intentioned.
Jude, incredibly depressed by Teddy's death, continues getting high, until he finally gets turned on to the straight-edge, zero drug tolerance lifestyle as practiced by Teddy's brother, Johnny (Emile Hirsch) a hardcore punk rock singer. Hailee Steinfeld is Eliza, the daughter of Les' girlfriend, Diane, played by Emily Mortimer. Eliza hooks up with Teddy (Avan Jogia), getting him high, the night he dies. She carries more than just guilt as a souvenir of their night together.
I don't think this is really going to be my kind of film even though it's filled with talented actors. Plus the movie comes with 34 producers attached. 34! What's that old saying? Oh, that's right. Too many cooks spoil the broth. 34 cooks is too many cooks.
Mostly though, I doubt I'd enjoy the music which surely must be a major draw for fans of punk rock. A young Canadian composer Garth Stevenson takes the music credit; hopefully he knows a thing or two about the hardcore straight edge music scene as well as scoring for film. But punk is not for me. While I trailed along to a couple of clubs majoring in punk music here in LA in the 80's, punk music was never my scene. Too noisy, too much head banging, screeching and sweat for little old me back then, certainly nothing that would appeal to me now.
There is also the question of the filmmakers appearing to sanitize the story which deals with some heavy duty issues; real drug abuse vs a little smoking of weed, teen pregnancy, homosexuality, tolerance and acceptance, and piss poor parenting. On a sheerly superficial basis, what's the deal with Emile Hirsch's hair?! As Johnny he's supposed to have a shaved head, and that shaved head really stands for something. His hardcore devotion to staying straight, eschewing the drugs his contemporaries indulge in.
But Hirsch's lovely hair is still very much intact which indicates to me a real lack of commitment on Hirsch's part as well as the filmmakers to the intense story Eleanor Henderson tried to tell. What's the opposite of hardcore? But what do I know?