A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints (2006)



Critic Consensus: A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints is a lively, powerful coming-of-age tale with winning performances and sharp direction from first-timer Dito Montiel.

Movie Info

This is the story of a pivotal summer on the hot, sweaty, violent streets of Astoria, Queens--a summer that changed only Dito Montiel, but the lives of everyone around him. Torn between is ill father, his domineering friend and protector Antonio, the neighborhood war and the lustful temptations of youth, Dito struggles against his desire to escape, running away from everything he knows. He finds redemption 15 years later when he returns to Queens and faces the "saints" who have influenced his … More

Rating: R (for pervasive language, some violence, sexuality and drug use)
Genre: Drama
Directed By:
Written By: Dito Montiel
In Theaters:
On DVD: Feb 20, 2007
Box Office: $0.4M
First Look Media - Official Site


as Young Dito

as Older Antonio

as Antonio's Father

as Young Laurie

as Diane

as Guiseppe

as Street Corner Puerto...

as Puerto Rican Van Dri...

as Beach Chair Guy

as Mike O'Shea

as Drunken Man in Subwa...

as Token Clerk

as Uncle George

as Aunt Mary

as Reaper's Little Brot...

as Queensbridge Bodega ...

as Prison Guard
Show More Cast

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Critic Reviews for A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints

All Critics (98) | Top Critics (33)

Given all the filmed memory pieces about screaming, violent Italian-American families in New York boroughs, I'm not especially thrilled by even a well-made example.

Full Review… | February 27, 2008
Chicago Reader
Top Critic

The plot itself might not break much new ground, but the telling, by both cast and crew, makes this a memoir to remember.

Full Review… | February 28, 2007
Time Out
Top Critic

It takes a while to recognize these saints, but the effort is worth it.

Full Review… | November 17, 2006
Toronto Star
Top Critic

Montiel's honey coated Queens of the mid-'80s is rich with the violence and carnality of teenagers, and the performances of LaBeouf (as the young Dito) and Channing Tatum (as his Stanley Kowalski-like grunt friend, Antonio) are raw pleasures.

Full Review… | November 7, 2012
Empire Magazine Australasia

Dito Montiel adapts his autobiographical 2001 novel into a vivid slice-of-life drama from the Jim Carroll school of disaffected coming-of-age New York journalism.

Full Review… | April 24, 2009

It is its very autobiographical roots that make Saints an emotional wallop, a raw, authentic work that is, at its defiant core, violently and unrestrainedly alive.

Full Review… | February 28, 2008

Audience Reviews for A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints

This depiction of harsh times in the Bronx is portrayed with perfection! I thought the performances from LaBeouf and Tatum were amazing! The plot is extremely engaging and every scene sent chills down my spine. The cinematography, the gritty look, the handheld camera shots, and the low-budget production values, are all contributing factors towards what I consider an overall masterpiece in independent filmmaking. Director Dito Montiel (in my opinion) has made his mark on cinema, creating believable characters to go along with a story that is inspired by true events. This film is a breathtaking work of subtle art filmography. I highly recommend this movie to film lovers. "A Guide To Recognizing Your Saints" is a beautiful little film!

KJ Proulx
KJ Proulx

Super Reviewer


Fizzes a bit at the end and didn't really like the adult cast, but the parts of this in flashback in the 70's were interesting. Kind of like "Kids". Enjoyed the music too!

Nicki Marie

Super Reviewer

I hated the first half of this film. I found the characters to be annoying, the direction irritating and the writing/script diabolical. To be fair though and seeing as it is based on real life events and real people, they probably were annoying and spoke badly. No excuses for the horrible directing and editing though. Inventive? yes, good? absolutely not, it made me want to stop watching. I have seen worse debuts though, and it is hard to question Dito Montiel's film because it is based on his book that is based on his real life upbringing on the 'tough streets of New York'. Maybe it's the fact that I just couldn't relate to the story that prevented my enjoyment, I don't know, I like Alien though and I've never been into space! Seriously though, the whole story wore thin. It seems others feel the same way. I hate the phrase 'Coming of age', it doesn't really mean anything, this film is also nothing like 'Kids' or 'Sleepers'. Misunderstood or incomprehensible, you decide, but for me, Dito needs to stick to writing (and I look forward to reading the book!). So in conclusion, is this a love or hate film? No, I loved just as much of this film as I hated, maybe that's why it's troubling me. The direction, editing, script I hated, the casting but more importantly the performances of Robert Downey Jr. and Rosario Dawson are horrible. I found the character of young Antonio quite annoying too but I think he was meant to be so Channing Tatum actually did a good job. What i did love about the film was the performances by Dianne Wiest, Chazz Palminteri, and Anthony DeSando. Channing Tatum is probably an actor to look out for and I also thought Martin Compston did a good job too. The scene with Shia LaBeouf and Chazz Palminteri in the bathroom later on in the film has bumped my rating up by 2 stars, it's that powerful. I might change my opinion of this film if I decide to watch again and although good film should always stay with you, the same can be said of bad film. This isn't a bad film, it's a good film, it's just that it had potential to be great that is so disappointing.

Anthony Lawrie

Super Reviewer

A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints Quotes

– Submitted by Jillian L (2 years ago)
– Submitted by Jillian L (2 years ago)

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