Buy this DVD at Amazon.com
“A coming-of-age drama about writer/director Dito Montiel’s youth, the film captures the mid-1980s in the toughest neighborhood of Astoria, Queens. Dito (Robert Downey Jr.), called home after 15 years because his father (Chazz Palmintieri) is ill, encounters old friends – the ones he lost, the ones he left behind, the ones he can’t help but remember. These are Dito’s “saints.” An honest account of a bittersweet return to a neighborhood where relationships can never be what they once were, Dito’s story is about coming to terms with a father’s rage and a father’s love.”
“A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints” is rated R for pervasive language, some violence, sexuality, and drug use.
The other thing I didn’t like about “A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints” were all the characters (never a good thing for a film). They’re all basically thugs. Every other word out of their mouths is “f**k” and you see that if they encountered a little old lady walking down the street, they’d push her in front of a car if the notion came to them. It’s a little hard to identify with these people when they’re so unlikable. And when they are put in jeopardy, you don’t particularly feel sorry for them. This is the case for everyone from Chazz Palminteri as Monty to Dianne Wiest as Flori.
“A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints” is a pretty good showing for a first time director. Dito got good performances out of the actors and the cinematography looks good. Shia LaBeouf particularly stands out among the cast. I thought some scenes where the characters spoke directly to the camera were entirely unnecessary and artsy, but otherwise the nonlinear storytelling worked well. The flashbacks helped develop the motivations for Dito.
I’d really only recommend “A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints” to those who enjoy art house films. It’s the kind of movie that will really only appeal to those who like seeing characters go through emotional torture on the screen.
There are a ton of bonus features included on this DVD. You have your standard commentary, an extensive ‘making of’ featurette, and a lot of alternate and deleted scenes. If you liked the film there should be plenty here to make you happy.