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 first-time director Dito Montiel did.
Reminiscent of Larry Clark’s Kids, which was set in
At first the film is a little difficult to watch visually – the editing and hand-held camera are abrupt. As the story develops and shifts into the present, this subsides and it becomes evident that this was a
A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints is not a light film but is more accessible than Kids. While Kids depicted the consequences of dangers faced by adolescents, this film portrays how one boy escapes from the dangers, but ultimately needs to confront and reconcile his past.
The performances in the film are very strong – the actors are all very credible and the dialogue is saturated with authenticity. Melonie Diaz, who previously appeared in Raising Victor Vargas, beautifully portrayed Dito’s childhood girlfriend Laurie.
Producer Robert Downey Jr. who encouraged
A film made with a small budget and a big heart, 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, 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.
Dir, Scr: Dito Montiel Rating: MA Duration: 99 min Genre: drama Language: English Country: USA Release: 16/11/06, limited Dist: Jump Street Films Prod Co: Xingu Films, Original Media Prod: Trudie Styler, Travis Swords, Charlie Corwin, Clara Markowicz Sound: Paul Hsu Phot: Eric Gautier Ed: Christopher Tellefsen, Jake Pushinsky Prod Des: Jody Asnes Mus: Jonathan Elias Cast: Robert Downey Jr, Shia LaBeouf, Chazz Palminteri, Dianne Wiest, Channing Tatum, Melonie Diaz, Martin Compston, Rosario Dawson, Adam Scarimbolo
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