User Score
7.2

Generally favorable reviews- based on 36 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 29 out of 36
  2. Negative: 4 out of 36
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  1. Marco
    Feb 21, 2007
    10
    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.
  2. SamJ
    Oct 27, 2006
    0
    How is it possible for this amateurish, poorly-made and stereotyped movie to get these kind of reviews. We've seen it all before, done far better! This film is an embarrassment.
  3. NormD.
    Apr 30, 2007
    3
    This movie is hilariously bad. Another example of an unintelligent, ignorant auteur/author mistaking his trite past for poetry. Another story of stupid people doing stupid things. At least, it was original when scorcese did it in mean streets.
  4. AmandaW.
    Jan 20, 2007
    9
    This movie was a convincing portrayal of the youth in Queens in the mid 1980s. Labeouf and Downy Jr. are amazing.
  5. ChadS.
    Mar 23, 2007
    9
    If you don't think off-color language can sound beautiful, just listen to the way these Queens teens(especially the girls) spout f-bombs and racial epithets in their Astoria wonderland of hormonal urges and premature bloodlettings. "A Guide to Recognizing your Saints" can sometimes be self-consciously arty, but this writer/director overcomes his indulgences by coaxing great If you don't think off-color language can sound beautiful, just listen to the way these Queens teens(especially the girls) spout f-bombs and racial epithets in their Astoria wonderland of hormonal urges and premature bloodlettings. "A Guide to Recognizing your Saints" can sometimes be self-consciously arty, but this writer/director overcomes his indulgences by coaxing great performances from a group of young actors(especially Channing Tatum and Melonie Diaz) who know how to walk and talk like bad asses with just the right dollop of humanity. Like Sally Potter's "The Tango Lesson", the filmmaker(played by Robert Downey Jr.) is the protagonist, which can be a risky move because people will automatically label you a narcissist. Well, in "A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints", the successful artist, the guy who left the borough; reunites with the guy who became a bum, the guy who went to prison, and the girl who had a kid. So yes, the filmmaker can't escape the perception that he's preening a little, but Downey saves his ass by looking genuinely humble and saddened by the people he left behind. This writer/director has talent. Look for the edit that transitions the contemporary Laurie(Rosario Dawson) into yesterday Laurie(Diaz), looking outside her tenement window for the guy(Shia LeBeouf) who could've changed her life. It's breathtaking, like most of this electrifying coming-of-age story that gives personal filmmaking a good name. Expand
  6. JosephK
    Oct 27, 2006
    9
    Raw, and gritty, like a punch in the face you cannot wait to tell your friends about. The sometimes poetic and artful nature of the film, through its stellar editing, cinematography, and soundtrack, never seems contrived, and works wonderfully. Even the arguably miscasting of 50 year old Eric Roberts is easy to shrug, after all he does know the role of vengeance very well, and Raw, and gritty, like a punch in the face you cannot wait to tell your friends about. The sometimes poetic and artful nature of the film, through its stellar editing, cinematography, and soundtrack, never seems contrived, and works wonderfully. Even the arguably miscasting of 50 year old Eric Roberts is easy to shrug, after all he does know the role of vengeance very well, and coincidentally this is also Sundance Expand
  7. SteveS.
    Nov 10, 2006
    10
    One of the Years Best and most violently thoughtful films. Amazing performances from Chazz Palminteri, Dianne Wiest, and surprisingly, Channing Tatum.
  8. PaulK.
    Nov 2, 2006
    7
    I enjoyed this more as it went on, but the beginning and what becomes the past in flashbacks needed tighter editing, more focus, in particular with dialogue. A few chaotic scenes overloaded with expletives is fine, but the beginning ultimately drowns in it's redundancy. More character development and a stronger conflict between the father and son would have put this one over the top. I enjoyed this more as it went on, but the beginning and what becomes the past in flashbacks needed tighter editing, more focus, in particular with dialogue. A few chaotic scenes overloaded with expletives is fine, but the beginning ultimately drowns in it's redundancy. More character development and a stronger conflict between the father and son would have put this one over the top. Still, this is worth a look on video. Expand
  9. DieterM.
    Oct 19, 2006
    8
    'A Guide To Recognizing Your Saints' is a beautiful, yet decidedly feel-bad movie. Great acting, great scenario, great photography, and aye lot of emotion. Gritty, but great.
  10. KenG
    Oct 25, 2006
    4
    The story and the characters feel very standard for movies from this genre. I felt like I've seen it all many times before. Nothing is done here to make it rise above the pedestrian feel. I'm also getting kind of tired of movies where everybody is miserable, yet the script can't be bothered to suppy enough reason for the characters to as misable as they are. Where the The story and the characters feel very standard for movies from this genre. I felt like I've seen it all many times before. Nothing is done here to make it rise above the pedestrian feel. I'm also getting kind of tired of movies where everybody is miserable, yet the script can't be bothered to suppy enough reason for the characters to as misable as they are. Where the characters are all unhappy, just because of this idea that characters are supposed to be unhappy in movies. Sometimes one of the movies, of which I speak, is done well enough to carry it off, this wasn't one of those times. Expand
  11. MattK.
    Feb 19, 2007
    9
    Moments of such brillant authenticity with moments of stilted drama. Really good movie. I was a little surprised. Lots of great performances especially from the young cast. If it wasn't for some of the awkward later moments this would be one of the best films of the year. Check it out.
  12. LiefS.
    Dec 31, 2008
    8
    Trying best I can not to be bias, having the movie take place in the place I grew up myself; I have to give the movie an 8. I deducted two points for really little things such as catching a few geographical flaws like the trains going the wrong way and the wrong lines of the trains; this is extremely small but as the movie was so realistic; they should have noticed this and also some Trying best I can not to be bias, having the movie take place in the place I grew up myself; I have to give the movie an 8. I deducted two points for really little things such as catching a few geographical flaws like the trains going the wrong way and the wrong lines of the trains; this is extremely small but as the movie was so realistic; they should have noticed this and also some scenes just ran for a little too long; the actual movie length was fine but just certain conversations like Downy Jr. in the car with his friend could have been cut shorter. Expand
  13. Jul 2, 2013
    9
    A 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 daysA 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.
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  14. Aug 28, 2014
    8
    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.
  15. Jan 25, 2013
    8
    Dito Montiel's A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints takes the style and approach similar to Robert De Niro's A Bronx Tale and Spike Lee's Do the Right Thing, which both overshadow this film for their grandscale look on issues and the exploration into certain relationships and how they grow and decimate over time. All three films possess common attributes; all three take place in a part ofDito Montiel's A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints takes the style and approach similar to Robert De Niro's A Bronx Tale and Spike Lee's Do the Right Thing, which both overshadow this film for their grandscale look on issues and the exploration into certain relationships and how they grow and decimate over time. All three films possess common attributes; all three take place in a part of New York, they are directed by first-timers, they are stories that the men hold close to their hearts, all utilize the storytelling method of narration or breaking the fourth wall in some way, and they focus on a large group of characters all with something to say. Whether it's worth hearing or not is up to you.

    A Bronx Tale effected me in a way that totally came out of left field. By delivering its brutal honesty with cold, authentic realism was audacious and showcasing three exquisite talents (one of them, Chazz Palminteri, present here), it delivered a coming of age drama, deeper and more reliant on values than any one I've previously seen. Do the Right Thing was a crisp, lively drama relying on racial tensions and impending chaos that would ensue from enduring a brutally hot day in Brooklyn. Spike Lee brilliantly concocted tension through character development and human conversation, and almost implying, throughout the course of the entire film, that no character did "the right thing." But whatever your definition of the right thing was, you could disagree with me.

    Montiel is more interested with telling his story more than tacking on a fancy moral or showing any deep, subversive element in particular, which is perfectly fine with me. His close-to-home story is buoyant on its own, relying on strong performances from charismatic leads and is elevated by bright, humid, and mercilessly seamy cinematography. Montiel himself is our protagonist, played in his later years by Robert Downey Jr., a successful writer, yet absent family-man, Dito's mother calls him one day, twenty years after leaving behind his home in Queens, to return home to convince his father (Chazz Palminteri) to go to the hospital after falling gravely ill. Upon returning home, he sees Queens isn't much different, still crime-infested and relatively unprotected from the destructive youth and the passive adults, but notices that his longtime friends' ambitions of being lawless and as juvenile as possible have surged into adulthood.

    This story is spliced with flashbacks from 1986, the year when Dito (Shia LeBeouf) abandoned everything he erected in Queens, when Dito was only concerned about hanging with his friends Antonio (Channing Tatum), Laurie (Melonie Diaz), and Mike (Martin Compston), causing trouble and wreaking havoc. The film casually follows the youth's events and run-ins with relationships, sexual encounters, conversations, and troubled instances, and often showing their home-lifes as the least of their concerns.

    Palminteri gives a wonderful performance here, confidently lax, yet remarkably genuine and subdued, often providing his son Dito with father-like guidance that often gets ignored when the going gets tough. When Dito is seen in present time, he is unforgiven by his father who views his move to leave home not noble and commendable, like some would, but rather shameful and deviant. He views his son's return home as no more than a cop out move, somewhat more shameful than him leaving. His offer to make amends feels forced and trite and he ain't buying it.

    A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints consistently maintains a gritty atmosphere and always feels alive and raw, even when it's at its calmest times. The performances, mainly from LeBeouf, Tatum, Downey Jr., Palminteri, and Rosario Dawson, who could've benefited from more screentime, use the story's difficult themes of family relations and devotions to their favor, and never does much of this lack genuine feeling, thanks to Mantiel manning the camera and working the pen on this project. To call this film "solid" would be sort of an understatement, yet to call this "groundbreaking" or even "wonderful" would be a bit much. I'll go with "meaningful:" seems to meet them halfway.

    Starring: Robert Downey Jr., Shia LaBeouf, Rosario Dawson, Melonie Diaz, Chazz Palminteri, Martin Compston, Eric Roberts, Channing Tatum, Dianne Wiest. Directed by: Dito Montiel.
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Metascore
67

Generally favorable reviews - based on 25 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 19 out of 25
  2. Negative: 0 out of 25
  1. Reviewed by: Don R. Lewis
    90
    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: Duane Byrge
    50
    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.
  3. Reviewed by: Robert Koehler
    60
    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.