A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints Reviews

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Super Reviewer
January 13, 2010
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!
Super Reviewer
½ January 16, 2008
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!
Super Reviewer
½ July 1, 2007
You can?t help but think of films such as ?A Bronx Tale? and ?Sleepers? when viewing this film, perhaps more intense and perhaps more gritty in parts, but can?t help being slightly disappointed with the anti-climatic ending after being built up so much.

What I did like about this film, was the building on the individual characters, they seemed to have much depth to them, something I wouldn?t have particularly thought of seeing from Shia Laboef and Channing Tatum and was a pleasant surprise. This was most definitely an Actor driven film opposed to storyline, which gave it believabiltity as a true story.
Super Reviewer
January 7, 2010
An amazing movie that has a great visual style and a compelling story. The acting was amazing and a lot more realistic than you usually see. Not since The Basketball Diaries has there been such a flawless sense of coming-of-age. It isn't a feel good teen comedy, but a very powerful and relentless tale of the city.
Super Reviewer
July 13, 2009
Robert Downey Jr., Shia Labeouf, Chazz Palminteri, Channing Tatum, Dianne West, Rosario Dawson

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 life.
The story takes place in the summer of 1986 in Queens, New York. It's the story of Dito Montiel, who wrote and directed this film telling the story of his summer that he left everyone behind and fleeing to L.A. The film goes back and forth to the present of Dito as the adult who is played by Downey and the to the past, Dito as a teenager played by Labeouf. This movie for me had a feeling like The Outsiders. Gang of friends hanging out, messing with girls, getting into fights, beat up rival gangs, shoplift and give attitude to on-lookers.
"A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints" is raw and gritty. Has some heart wrenching performances especially by Labeouf and Tatum. Probably not a film for most but definitely one that should be seen by all. Overall this is a great film, filled with amazing performances, no one should miss.
Super Reviewer
½ November 24, 2009
"My name is Dito and I'm going to leave everyone in this film."

The movie is a coming-of-age drama about a boy growing up in Astoria, N.Y., during the 1980s. As his friends end up dead, on drugs or in prison, he comes to believe he has been saved from their fate by various so-called saints.

First time writer/director Dito Montiel arrives with a tremendous force, proving himself artistically adept with the critically acclaimed adaptation of his autobiographical book detailing a tense upbringing in Astoria, New York in the 1980's. Splicing heartfelt flashbacks that Montiel remembers with bitter fondness about growing up in a rough neighborhood with the modern-day predicament of returning home to see his family with an uncanny first time precision, A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints just might be among this decade's sleeper hit. With pitch-perfect admiration, the film embraces a range of natural and deep (even in their stereotypical underpinnings) character types in all of their graphic ugliness, at times playing out like a more genuine and retro version of the vacant "Kids".

Any conservatives turned off by the gritty, hands-on approach these young actors are engaged in however, will likely miss the underlying integrity that lies dormant in nearly every foul-mouthed utterance that is heard. Casting here could not be better, it is refreshing and reassuring to see stars young and old line up to be a part of a nameless project, simply because the material is so resonant. The focus does tend to concentrate on Dito's younger years, perhaps to a fault of relaying his older ones, and the drama can feel slightly forced at times, but by and large the movie shines through with a prideful authenticity, shown not only through the perceptive direction but the surprisingly adept performances.
Super Reviewer
December 2, 2006
I didn't think it was possible for one movie to have such terrible, underachieving writing and incredible, creative directing, but that's the case with A GUIDE TO RECOGNIZING YOUR SAINTS. To top it all off, it's written and directed by the same person, Dito Montiel (the lead character). Confused already?

Montiel penned a memoir called "A Guide to Recognizing your Saints", which he later adapted for cinema. Clearly, Montiel started as a writer, but his true talents lie in the world of film. Maybe it was the emotional connection to the material (after all, it's HIS story), but his inventive direction grabs the attention the crappy screenplay fails to.

Brilliant casting (except for Eric Roberts, WTF?) is another one of AGTRYS's accomplishments. Channing Tatum (yes, him), Rosario Dawson and Robert Downey Jr. shine. Chazz Palminteri's performance was terribly uneven, though.
Super Reviewer
October 20, 2007
A sometimes impressive film detailing life on the streets of Queens, New York during the 1980's. Extremely well-acted at times (with the raw verbal scuffles between LaBeouf and Palminteri being the standouts), but also restrains from being more powerful than it could be. Some things in the movie I saw coming from a mile away, nothing really surprised me. This is a standard, occasionally interesting indie-film that features two surprisingly strong leading performances from Tatum and LaBeouf (although I believe this movie will be the ceiling for both of them, acting-wise). Plot-wise it definitely could've been sharpened, but certainly not terrible. Overall missible, but watchable to a degree.
Super Reviewer
½ January 26, 2007
the acting in this one was fantastic. the story was fairly pointless and you cant really connect with the characters, really just a well acted movie about random kids that are not all that different from most of us. the direction was the most interesting part. a debut for this director, it was unlike any direction that ive ever seen. you will either love the way that he made this film or you will hate it. i thought the direction was pretty good.
Super Reviewer
½ March 12, 2009
Intense performances from the entire ensemble. Story doesn't bring anything new to the pull-oneself-up-from-one's-bootstraps trope, no matter how hard the visual/narrative trickery tries to convince me. The title and message are a bit cryptic as well. Are we supposed to feel good about Dito leaving? The movie doesn't portray Dito's home life as being that terrible, just his neighborhood. When older Laurie tells him to be a man and take care of his family, it's a potential turning point for forgiveness all around, but it doesn't really go anywhere. The saints that Dito leaves behind didn't help him get out of Astoria and onto a better life; he pretty much does that all by himself. He recognizes that as abandonment, yet he still gains acclaim and sympathy off their stories. So...is he admirable or culpable? Maybe THAT'S the new twist. Even if so, it needs to be more concrete.
Super Reviewer
February 1, 2009
Really good acting by the whole cast, but the "creative" effects and style took away from a slow moving story. Very good story, but it should have been edited to 1 hour.
Super Reviewer
½ April 21, 2008
Shiftless tough teens learn life's bitter lessons on the mean streets of New York. With Chazz Palminteri, Robert Downey Jr. and a cast of exciting fresh faces, it's well acted, etc., but adds little to the genre.
Super Reviewer
September 15, 2008
Here is a film that we have seen so many times before. Man looks back on his life while trying to fix relationships in the present. Although this is handled extremely well with some excellent editing which brings a new life to scenes that may seem repetitive it just isn't that interesting as a story. Majority of characters are very flat and very annoying especially Rosario Dawson whom attacks Downey Jr for trying to get out of his shitty life. She's still hanging out the same window with a kid so fuck her. Palminteri does a fine job of a father who seems to care more for one of Dito's friends as opposed to his own son. He's annoying but purposefully so. Had the film focussed on just one time period it could have been more complete and a much better film. As it is we jump back and forth and never really feel anything for anybody. Prime example is Eric Roberts literally just walking on screen and that's it, it's a waste of a fine actor. Downey Jr is fantastic as always. One scene sees Wiest as his mother baring her soul and doing all the talking, but it is Downey Jr whom out acts her by barely saying a word. It's all in his body language and eye movement.
Super Reviewer
½ September 27, 2007
An electrifying and beautifully portrayed street drama. Remarkable, riveting, brilliant, emotionally gripping and absolutely unforgettable. It's stunning and breathtaking. A fantastic directional debut by a director that actually lived this amazing story. An extreamly powerful film that shines with honesty, reality and darkness. A magnificent movie in which almost anyone could relate too. Engaging, heart-wrenching and heart-breaking. A real hard hitting piece of work. Mean streets meets Stand by me. An incrediable and brilliant all-star cast. Robert Downey Jr. gives an emotionally moving and powerful performance. Chazz Palminteri is a powerhouse. Shia LaBouf is outstanding. Channing Tatum is teriffic. Superbly performed and excuted.
Super Reviewer
June 9, 2008
Nice movie. It has a very interesting story about a teenager's tough relation with his father and the consequences it has in his life.The movie rhythm is a little slow still it was enjoyable. The soundtrack was very good, great music from the 80's. The cast is conformed by very good actors like Robert Downey Jr. that gave us a very good acting in the role of older Dito Montiel and Shia LaBeouf as younger Dito with a powerful performance.
Super Reviewer
½ February 18, 2007
Pretty different movie than the other movie I have already seen before... But the story was so hard to understand because so many F word used in this movie... That just make me confused... And the editing, they were very bad... Just getting me more confused... But the song was pretty good.. The song choice wasn't bad at all... I love the 'Trouble' song... Is that an original song? Coz if that an original song then Academy Awards did something wrong with not put it in Best Original Song nominee in that year... And the cast did a pretty good job too... Shia LaBeouf, Robert Downey Jr. and Dianne West, they good... But Channing Tatum gave another performance.. He's great.. Two thumbs up too for Melonie Diaz... Pretty good enough for the Independent Spirit Awards...
Super Reviewer
December 3, 2006
Directed by: Dito Montiel.
Starring: Channing Tatum, Robert Downey Jr. Rosario Dawson, Shia LeBeouf.

Why exactly is this film unknown? I would have thought that the mainstream audience would know it because of the known cast (thats how they work right?)....lets just hope it gets a little more recognized because of powerful and personal it is.

The story follows Dito Montiel (the film is an autobiography seeing as he directed and wrote the film and it is based off the book he wrote about him and his life), through the summer in 1986 that changed not only his life, but others forever. Jump forward 20 years and he decides to go back home and face his past. What makes this film so much more is how real it is, seeing as this is based of the directors/writers life, he knows what he wants to show and I think that if it was adapted by anyone else, it would lose something. The film certainly isn't perfect, some scenes are a little uneven and some characters ain't quite touched upon as much as they should have been but the film hits a chord with what we are shown. The film is gritty and realistic and shot superbly, Dito really captures the feel of Queens and lets us see the destruction through his eyes. Although, as I mentioned, some characters ain't quite touched upon, others are and we slowly build our way around them and Dito gives us enough personal insight into these characters that he knows so well that it does add to the effect of the film, it certainly has its share of powerful moments (maybe this is just me, but one scene of the fight with his father left me breathless, it was quite intense). The acting, easily put, is powerful and helps the film in many parts. Shia LaBeouf proves once again how great he is going to be in years to come, Robert Downey Jr. is only in the film for a few scenes but he takes the characters painful history and works with it very well, but the man to mention here is Channing Tatum. I'll admit I have always hated the guy as an actor in what I have seen of him, but he turns that all around here and proves to be a strong actor when hit with the right roles.

Like I mentioned before, if someone else had made this film, it wouldn't have the same effect. Aside from a few flaws, the film packs a very personal and powerful punch. A brilliant coming of age story with some powerful acting that leaves us with a strong message: What would you do in a situation like this, leave the only life you know behind, or stay and face it?
Super Reviewer
½ August 10, 2007
Pretty good movie.
Super Reviewer
July 26, 2007
This movie was good up until they added Chaplin and that bitch who is in every fucking indie movie about New York. Dawson is like the black Parker Posey.
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