A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints

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Still of Rosario Dawson in A Guide to Recognizing Your SaintsStill of Shia LaBeouf in A Guide to Recognizing Your SaintsBarry Levinson and Trudie Styler at event of A Guide to Recognizing Your SaintsStill of Shia LaBeouf, Peter Anthony Tambakis, Adam Scarimbolo and Channing Tatum in A Guide to Recognizing Your SaintsStill of Melonie Diaz and Laila Liliana in A Guide to Recognizing Your SaintsStill of Chazz Palminteri in A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints

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

Director: Dito Montiel

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

Dianne Wiest - Flori
Robert Downey Jr. - Dito
Shia LaBeouf - Young Dito
Melonie Diaz - Young Laurie
Laila Liliana - Diane (as Julia Garro)
Eleonore Hendricks - Jenny
Adam Scarimbolo - Guiseppe
Peter Anthony Tambakis - Young Nerf (as Peter Tambakis)
Channing Tatum - Young Antonio
Anthony Tirado - Street Corner Puerto Rican (credit only)
Erick Rosado - Puerto Rican Van Driver
Steve Payne - Beach Chair Guy (as Steven Payne)
Chazz Palminteri - Monty
Tibor Feldman - Teacher
Martin Compston - Mike O'Shea

Taglines: Sometimes the only way to move forward is to go back


Official Website: First Look Studios | Official site |

Release Date: 13 October 2006

Filming Locations: Astoria, Queens, New York City, New York, USA

Opening Weekend: $94,784 (USA) (1 October 2006) (8 Screens)

Gross: $516,139 (USA) (19 November 2006)

Technical Specs


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.

Anachronisms: 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.

Guiseppe: My name is Guiseppe and I'm Antonio's brother.

User Review

Emotionally honest

Rating: 8/10

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 did.

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 screen presence.

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.


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