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
Martin Compston was cast as Mike based on his performance in Ken Loach's Sweet Sixteen (2002), for which he won Best Actor at the British Independent Film Awards. Executive Producer Trudie Styler was on the jury for said award. See more »
When Dito and Mike are walking to Frank's for the first time they walk by Mamas Food Shop, which wasn't established until 1995. See more »
A Guide to Recognizing your Saints There comes a time when motion pictures take an extraordinary turn, when and where that happens is irrelevant, although recently I've experienced a breathtaking turn in film making. The name of the experience is "A Guide to Recognizing your Saints." First time director Dito Montiel created, based on own occurrences and adapted from his book, a personal picture engulfed in beautiful undertones of love, regret and forgiveness.
The film is sculpted by a powerful screenplay by Montiel and an incredible cast who captured the best ensemble award from the coveted Sundance Film Festival. The film stars Academy Award nominees Robert Downey, Jr. and Chazz Palminteri, Oscar winner, Dianne Weist and a slew of incredible and upcoming talent coming from Shia LeBeouf, Rosario Dawson, Channing Tatum and Melonie Diaz. The movie parallels us through a downward spiral of daily entities and a burrow of absolution and adversity.
The movie cuts in and out of the years 2005 and 1986 and both center around Dito Montiel, a young Queens-born Italian trying to cope with the everyday hard streets of crime, prejudice and premature passion. In 2005 Dito lives away from his family and is contacted by his mother to return home to care for his ill and medically stubborn father. Robert Downey, Jr. plays the multi-layered character who carries the weight of the world on his heart. Dito's pain is so deep that he can't even believe or conceive a start to come to terms with it. Downey, Jr. has been making a strong comeback for his career and when he pulls in outstanding performances like this it reestablishes his talent. Shia LeBeouf portrays the young "Dito" in 1986 and pulls in one of the most riveting performances ever performed by a younger actor. LeBeouf shows you what it means not only to play a role but to inhabit it. "Dito" may seem flawless at times as he grows up and surrounds himself by his compatriots, but when he falls into temptation and wants the escape into an unrestrained humanity we see a true idol emerge.
Dito's humanity is threatened by local thugs such as the Puerto Rican, Reefer and his relationship with his adverse father played by Palminteri. Throughout the film you see Dito trying to self-improve his life by conversations about relocating, expanding his friends with the new foreign student Mike and learning more about himself than he intends at his age. His circle of friends include the three "free-spirited" teenage girls from the neighborhood, his abused and violent friend Antonio, (Channing Tatum) the little man, Nerf, and Antonio's dazed younger brother Giuseppe. Dito searches for it including love with one of the ladies (Melonie Diaz (young) Rosario Dawson (old)) who captures the essence of innocence lost in between adolescence and the alleyway.
Dito Montiel's life is the ultimate example of baggage accumulated over decades and inevitable recognition of it and eventual confrontation of it. The movie is "Kids" meets "The Basketball Diaries" told in a "Sleepers" like narrative. The "21 Grams" like cinematography is captivating and crisp editing makes a wonderful, enjoyable and imperative film to a generation lost in its own indulgence. Unfortunately, the film is far too "small" to be recognized by the Academy. If it were up to me this would be a definite contender in the Adapted Screenplay category and LeBeouf would be joining a very crowded Best Actor race. Downey, Jr. would also enhance his chances in the supporting category along with "Fur." This personal portrait of culture and life exists primarily in the mind and suffering of Dito Montiel who painted this amazing representation. All who see the film will be yearning to recognize their saints .and love.
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