By Merle Bertrand | September 28, 2004

Mariela (Sarita Choudhury) seems more like Rena’s (Daniella Alonso) older sister than her mother, but the comely young woman faces her responsibilities by working the night shift at a local hospital to improve their lives. This often leaves Rena to fend for herself, which the pretty fifteen year-old generally does quite well. Often, she takes to the streets, both to hang out with her friends but primarily to avoid the abusive advances of her sleazy stepfather Ricky (Ivan Martin). Rena eventually asks her best friend Wanda Love, a devoted Santeria practitioner, to cast some protective spells over her to keep Ricky at bay, but to no avail. When Ricky’s advances brutally cross the line, Rena’s hotheaded boyfriend Zane (Ryan Donowho) leads her friends in an ill-advised scheme of vengeance that goes horribly awry.
It’s hard to say why “Rhythm of the Saints” goes awry as well. This is a film that should work better than it does. Director Sarah Rogacki has assembled a talented young cast all performing quite well on a film that ambitiously tries to mix typical teen angst with mysticism and a street-smart detective story.
Yet somehow, the film winds up as less than the sum of its parts, playing like a dull version of “Law & Order: Crime and Punishment”…without Vincent d’Onofrio and his broken neck. For whatever reason, “Rhythm of the Saints” is just plain out of rhythm.

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