The movie is a coming-of-age drama about a boy growing up in Astoria, New York during the 1980s. As his friends end up dead, on drugs, or in prison. He comes to believe he has been saved from their fates by various so-called saints.
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? Written by
Robert Downey, Jr. jokes that at one point, Trudie Styler locked him, Dito Montiel, and Alex Francis (who was head of development) into her apartment in New York City, and wouldn't let them out until they had "nailed the structure". See more »
In the scene where Antonio beats the Reaper with a bat in the store you can see Listerine Pocketpacks breath strips which didn't come to the market until the 21st century. See more »
In the end - just like I said - I left everything, and everyone. But no one, no one has ever left me.
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At the very end of the credits, after the logo graveyard, there is a short bit with the real Monty. See more »
First time director Dito Montiel's "A Guide To Recognizing Your Saints" is a harsh autobiographical look back at his youth on the mean streets of Astoria, Queens in the mid 1980's. From the film's opening moments, Montiel introduces us to an intimate world of family and friendship that totally blindsided me by its greatness. There are moments in "A Guide To Recognizing Your Saints" that roll along with such force and emotion, that Montiel feels like a natural born filmmaker, infusing his personal heartache into strong characters breathing within a vivid time and place. Montiel's handling of edits, sound, and music are also powerful, such as a scene in Dito's kitchen between his father and group of friends that explodes into stark images and quick cuts to black. Montiel also handles the return home of Downey Jr. with care and vulnerability, searching for small answers that come in revelatory conversations with his mother (Dianne Weist) and grown up girlfriend Dianne (played by Rosario Dawson). And while such personal material can be hard to translate without lapsing into melancholy, Montiel finds a way to craft a clear eyed version of his life, allowing strong acting and electric film-making to take over the balance of the experience. I love finding unheralded gems such as this. The name of Robert Downey Jr. brought me to the theater and I discovered a true talent in Dito Montiel who has crafted one of the finest directing debuts in several years
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