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.
Release Year: 2006
Rating: 7.0/10 (14,258 voted)
Critic's Score: 67/100
Stars: Robert Downey Jr., Rosario Dawson, Shia LaBeouf
Dito, a writer in L.A., goes home to Astoria, Queens, after a 15-year absence when his mother calls to say his father's ill. In a series of flashbacks we see the young Dito, his parents, his four closest friends, and his girl Laurie, as each tries to navigate family, race, loyalty, sex, coming of age, violence, and wanting out. A ball falls onto the subway tracks at a station, small things get out of hand. Can Dito go home again?
Writers: Dito Montiel, Dito Montiel
Robert Downey Jr.
(as Julia Garro)
Peter Anthony Tambakis
(as Peter Tambakis)
Street Corner Puerto Rican
Puerto Rican Van Driver
Beach Chair Guy
(as Steven Payne)
Sometimes the only way to move forward is to go back
Release Date: 13 October 2006
Filming Locations: Astoria, Queens, New York City, New York, USA
Opening Weekend: $94,784
(1 October 2006)
(19 November 2006)
Did You Know?
Dito Montiel was reluctant to cast Shia LaBeouf in the role of young Dito because Montiel was intent on casting an unknown. After the first rejection, however, LaBeouf pushed for one more audition. He came into the casting office, punched a hole in the wall, and convinced Montiel that he could bring a requisite amount of anger to the role.
In one shot of the subway, American flags are visible next to the subway windows. These were added after the attacks of 9/11, years after the movie takes place.
My name is Guiseppe and I'm Antonio's brother.
What kind of writer reveals his troubled childhood, then directs a
semi-autobiographical film about it, using a character with his own
name? Bold, foolish or maybe both, that's exactly what Dito Montiel
Reminiscent of Larry Clark's Kids in Manhattan, it depicts adolescents
growing up in a tough neighbourhood, in the borough of Queens. For some
of these youth, the dangers lay not just on the streets, but also in
their own homes. Dito only knew he had to get away.
At first the film is a little difficult to watch visually the editing
and hand-held camera are abrupt. As the film develops, and the story
shifts into the present, it becomes evident that this was a deliberate
device to depict the nature of recollection. As Dito makes the journey
across the continent to visit the ill father he hasn't seen in 15
years, a montage of childhood memories flood his mind.
A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints at times is not an easy film to
watch but is more accessible than Kids. Both films depict the dangers
faced by adolescents. While Kids depicted the consequences of those
dangers, this film portrays how one boy escapes from them, but
ultimately needs to confront and reconcile his past.
The performances in the film are strong. The actors are all very
credible. The dialogue is saturated with authenticity. Melonie Diaz,
who previously appeared in Raising Victor Vargas, beautifully portrayed
Dito's childhood girlfriend Laurie. Rosario Dawson plays the grown up
Laurie, and incidentally made her film debut in Kids.
Producer Robert Downey Jr. who encouraged Montiel to make the film, was
excellent in an understated role as the adult Dito. The transition of
actors between 1986 and the present was depicted effectively. Special
mention to Chazz Palminteri, who always has a strong but unforced
A film made with a small budget, it pays off with a strong, emotionally
powerful and worthwhile story. I was surprised how the emotional impact
crept up towards the end, as Dito dealt with his past as best he could.
This film is highly recommended for those who enjoy human drama in
shades of grey. There's no good guy/bad guy thing happening here. It's
people dealing with the hand that destiny has given them, and trying to
find their way. It is full of emotional honesty and plausibility that
you can buy into. And don't leave until after the final credits.