Candid Cinema

‘Saint X’ Review

By: Amanda Guarragi

When young adults want to break free from their parent’s restrictions, they tend to want to prove themselves as adults. They think they know everything about the world because they have finally reached that maturity level to make decisions for themselves. Saint X explores the mysterious death of a young girl named Alison (West Duchovny) on an island, which causes trauma for her younger sister Emily (Alycia Debnam-Carey) when she gets older. Her parents never told her how her sister died, and now she is on a mission to uncover the truth. The series is based on the book by Alexis Schaitkin, and she unpacks many social and cultural issues, such as white privilege, queer oppression and the search for the truth. 

The series Leila Gerstein created highlights the lives of three different people. Alison knows that she comes from a privileged family, and since she went to Princeton for a year, she believes she knows more about being prejudiced than her family. On the island, the workers she meets, Gogo (Josh Bonzie) and Edwin (Jayden Elijah), have complex backstories that affect the lives of those at the resort. As Alison gets to know Edwin, things go further than anticipated. Each episode has a series of flashbacks that help piece together the story for viewers while Alison’s sister, Emily, tracks down Gogo and befriends him. The more Emily gets into the life of Gogo, the more her traumatic past unravels. She is too close to the subject that Emily can’t remain sane while digging this deep. 

Given that the series focuses on the cultural divide and white privilege, the way Alison’s mysterious murder is framed leads audiences to believe that it was set up from the very beginning. The more Emily uncovers her sister’s case she realizes that no one ever had the story. The most jarring thing about this series is that there are too many flashbacks with four characters involved. The character development of Gogo, Edwin, Emily and Alison works well, but the series does overstay its welcome. The two actors who stand out among the cast are Debnam-Carey, and Elijah, who steals the spotlight in every scene they’re in. The way Gogo and Edwin’s relationship spirals and changes throughout the series makes for an interesting dynamic. 

Saint X explores the journey of four characters who all had their lives changed during one vacation. A sister was lost, a romantic relationship was altered, and the only thing that remained was the trauma. Creator Leila Gerstein was able to incorporate every aspect of the novel. But sadly, the direction of the episodes did not flow into each strand of the stories being told from the character’s perspectives. The eight episodes pack a lot in the forty-five-minute runtime, and the character dynamics change throughout. Audiences will get to know each of these characters fully by the end of the series and understand how everyone’s decisions impacted the rest of their lives on that one fateful night of Alison’s death. Saint X premieres on Wednesday, April 26th on Hulu in the U.S. and Disney+ in Canada.  

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