A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints Reviews
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?