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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 Dito Montiel
Reminiscent of Larry Clark's Kids in Manhattan, it depicts adolescents
growing up in a tough neighbourhood, in the borough of Queens. For some
of these youth, the dangers lay not just on the streets, but also in
their own homes. Dito only knew he had to get away.
At first the film is a little difficult to watch visually the editing
and hand-held camera are abrupt. As the film develops, and the story
shifts into the present, it becomes evident that this was a deliberate
device to depict the nature of recollection. As Dito makes the journey
across the continent to visit the ill father he hasn't seen in 15
years, a montage of childhood memories flood his mind.
A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints at times is not an easy film to
watch but is more accessible than Kids. Both films depict the dangers
faced by adolescents. While Kids depicted the consequences of those
dangers, this film portrays how one boy escapes from them, but
ultimately needs to confront and reconcile his past.
The performances in the film are strong. The actors are all very
credible. The dialogue is saturated with authenticity. Melonie Diaz,
who previously appeared in Raising Victor Vargas, beautifully portrayed
Dito's childhood girlfriend Laurie. Rosario Dawson plays the grown up
Laurie, and incidentally made her film debut in Kids.
Producer Robert Downey Jr. who encouraged Montiel to make the film, was
excellent in an understated role as the adult Dito. The transition of
actors between 1986 and the present was depicted effectively. Special
mention to Chazz Palminteri, who always has a strong but unforced
A film made with a small budget, 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, and 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.
Tags for A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints Full Movie
, Melonie Diaz
, Robert Downey Jr.
, Shia LaBeouf
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