An indelible image from Sept. 11, 2001, is the lifeless body of Mychal Judge, Franciscan priest and chaplain of the New York City Fire Department, being carried, “Pieta”-like, from the fuming ruins of the World Trade Center. “Saint of 9/11,” an unabashed tribute to Judge’s life, struggles and Christian mission, does a good job of communicating what made Judge an inspiring figure to many, while making his life’s work accessible and understandable. Docu may not play multiplexes but TV seems a certainty.
Glenn Holsten’s beautifully photographed and dramatically edited docu reveals that, in conventional terms, Judge, a recovering alcoholic gay man, wasn’t a saint. But testimony from dozens of Judge’s friends, NYFD flock and clerical colleagues, confirms his unorthodox manner and no-nonsense sense of ministry was perfectly in keeping with priestly purpose. “Saint of 9/11,” set in New York and Ireland, doesn’t pretend to be anything but an elegy and celebration of one life that touched many. It does what it sets out to do stylishly, affectionately and convincingly.