Generally favorable reviews - based on 25 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 19 out of 25
  2. Negative: 0 out of 25
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  1. Reviewed by: Don R. Lewis
    Downey Jr. and LaBeouf as Dito as well as Chazz Palminteri as Monty are outstanding. Channing Tatum (who I've never heard of) is also amazing as the tortured soul Antonio.
  2. Reviewed by: Jessica Reaves
    The movie is awash in great performances by actors known and otherwise.
  3. This gallantly imperfect indie pops with attitude.
  4. 80
    It's forceful and alive and spilling over with crazy poetry.
  5. 80
    hough the picture is wrenching, at times devastating, it leaves you with that buoyant feeling of having encountered a raw, authentic work of art.
  6. In "A Guide," passion and imagination go a long way in transforming seemingly conventional material and characters.
  7. 80
    This is an exceptionally assured debut, and Montiel exhibits rare care with editing and sound design. His real forte, though, is casting, to which a brief scene featuring Downey and the incandescent Rosario Dawson powerfully attests.
  8. 75
    Most viewers will discover this picture - and it is worth discovering - when it is released on DVD.
  9. 75
    This is a gifted director who actually has something to say and knows how to say it. We'll be hearing from him again.
  10. 75
    Scenemaker Dito Montiel's rough, grating memoir of growing up in a poor, violent section of Astoria, Queens, in the mid-1980s features a few too many arty flourishes, but also packs a raw power that's hard to shake.
  11. Reviewed by: Dana Stevens
    Like the boys, Montiel's first film is rough and uneven, with more energy than it knows what to do with. But it still manages to feel fresh and authentic, perhaps because it's so deeply autobiographical.
  12. 67
    The film feels like an earnest retread over old territory, albeit one that intermittently comes to life thanks to an amazing cast, expressive cinematography by French master Eric Gautier (Irma Vep), and Montiel's obviously heartfelt sentiments.
  13. One of the American cinema's rare excursions into pure autobiography: the movie is Montiel's own coming-of-age story, with little or nothing disguised as fiction.
  14. A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints is inchoate, but it demonstrates that instincts and brio can compensate for a lot.
  15. Reviewed by: Glenn Kenny
    For my money, if I'm in the mood for the kind of aesthetic and emotional experience Saints is selling, I'll just blast Jim Carroll's more concise (and rocking!) "People Who Died" out of my iPod.
  16. The framing sequences with Downey and the climactic scenes between father and son are a mess. Downey, at 41, is too old to be playing a character who can be no more than 31 or 32, and 50-year-old Eric Roberts is an even greater distraction as Montiel's imprisoned friend Antonio.
  17. 63
    The first-time filmmaker aspires to show us what caused him to leave his neighborhood and stay gone for 20 years. All I can really glean is that the place was too loud.
  18. As it dips in and out of the boys' lives, and occasionally wanders back to the contemporary Dito surveying the old neighbourhood, Saints never really integrates its two time periods.
  19. Reviewed by: Robert Koehler
    Writer-director Montiel creates a movie of many parts that don't always congeal. Mix this with the many meaty scenes and a roster of often exceptional actors and the effect is one of a fabulous acting showcase more than a wholly finished work.
  20. Reviewed by: Rob Nelson
    Whatever the first-time filmmaker lacks in subtlety and finesse--not even the snow-white Sundance Screenwriters Lab could bleach Montiel's script of its corner-deli grit--he recoups by other, more playfully attitudinal means.
  21. 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.
  22. Reviewed by: Duane Byrge
    After a while, the crudeness and venality of the central characters proves as stifling as the incessant Queens summer heat does to our dubious protagonists.
  23. 50
    I suspect this guy can make a good movie if he learns the right lessons; he's made about half of one here. But the praise heaped upon A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints is way too much, way too soon.
  24. The story of Dito escaping and then facing his demons is meaningful. But that story is so buried in actorly noise that it feels false.
User Score

Generally favorable reviews- based on 36 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 12 out of 15
  2. Negative: 2 out of 15
  1. Marco
    Feb 21, 2007
    Unbelievably beauty, strange poetics, daring choices of voices filtering over scenes and a story that is hard to follow, but draws you in Unbelievably beauty, strange poetics, daring choices of voices filtering over scenes and a story that is hard to follow, but draws you in enough to blow your mind away in the end. It seems at time out of balance, but that is the beauty of it. and for some really weird reason, the ending, the compassion, the sincere deeply heartfelt empathy made me even shed a tear. Full Review »
  2. Aug 28, 2014
    Beyond the fact that Robert Downey Jr. is awesome in this one, the whole movie was very much worth the watch.

    The characters were never
    Beyond the fact that Robert Downey Jr. is awesome in this one, the whole movie was very much worth the watch.

    The characters were never really introduced - not in a traditional way. Things keps spiraling down between past and present, diving in deeper to the events and people in the film, which in return created a sharp, painful, agonizing trip.

    So much bad, so little good, and so like life.
    Full Review »
  3. Jul 2, 2013
    A time before Downey Jr. was Iron Man, before Shia LaBeouf became the annoying kid in Transformers and before Channing Tatum was a sizeableA time before Downey Jr. was Iron Man, before Shia LaBeouf became the annoying kid in Transformers and before Channing Tatum was a sizeable household name, they were brought together for a biopic of Dito Montiel and his early years in New York, now a man who has eluded his past by becoming quite a successful writer, the film jumps between two timelines as we witness Dito and his early days in 1980s Astoria, New York, played by LaBeouf, and the present day, now played by Downey Jr.
    The most stand out part of the earlier days in Dito's story is that of his damaged friend Antonio, played by Tatum, who gives a very heartfelt performance as the bullying and egotistical teen that is also beaten viciously by his father.
    We occasionally see older Dito as he appears to be thinking about these pivotal moments in his past, guilt, heartache but seemingly joy flashes across his face, as his reluctance to come back to his childhood bearings start to show. In his past we see how determined he became to try and get out of his neighbourhood after meeting a new Scottish classmate who fills Dito's head with dreams of California.
    Recognising Your Saints is often portrayed as a coming of age drama, deal with the issues that most teens face, identity crisis. But with Dito, his heightening sense of fear for his safety, his father's apparent love for Antonio who isn't is son and of course the pressures of leaving this all behind.
    The unique editing of the film along with its very candid shots and reality show-esque dialogue have created a very emotionally riveting story of a man's real life, While all the cast involved are fantastically at the top of their game, my personal admiration goes to Channing Tatum, playing a man he bottles up every feeling and emotion he has in his big and bulging physique, who takes no prisoners, is awkward and hostile around new faces but ultimately looks out for his friends, perhaps too much.
    Shia LaBeouf and Robert Downey Jr combine various characteristics and moving performances to bring the director and protagonist Dito Montiel to the screen, LaBeouf squashing his childhood baby face and Downey Jr continuing to prove himself as one of the finest actors of his generation. Also mention for the parents Monty and Flori, played with powerful performances from Chazz Palminteri and Dianne West.
    A moving, beautifully shot and outstanding script have equaled to and enjoyable but heartbreaking tale of a boy with a messy life but with the same hope as many in his position, to leave his past behind and not let people hold him down.
    Full Review »