Having missed the opportunity to see the movie A Guide To Recognizing Your Saints on the box, I caught up on BBC iplayer and how disappointed and let down I was after realizing I’d wasted an hour and thirty-four minutes watching a piece of tosh. OK that’s a little bit unfair. It wasn’t tosh, more like mediocre nonsense where after reading the cast list I expected something much more lively.
Based on the book of the same name, A Guide To Recognizing Your Saints tells of the life of Dito Montiel and how whilst growing up in a rough region of New York witnessed the people around him end up dead or in prison. His friend Antonio ends up in prison due to an attack on a member of a graffiti gang and Antonio’s brother ends up dead after playing chicken on a train track.
Meanwhile, as a result of a broken relationship with his father, and after befriending Mike, who has dreams of becoming a musician, he begins to drift apart from his roots and foresees a future away from New York, i.e. in California.
Here are the negatives and believe me there are a lot of flaws. For a start the dialogue is pathetic. The script it disorganized and messy. Each character’s dialogue is drab and too fragile to sustain a whole movie. In one scene Shia LaBeouf tells his girlfriend he wants to fuck her and she replies I want you to fuck me and there’s this sentimental music underneath it all. Am I suppose to feel some kind of empathy for these people, these two lovebirds, who find themselves in the shit hole region of New York they live in?
Having said this the movie did have an effect on me, in the sense that I did want to know how the neighborhood will react to Ditto’s return. But whether this was because I’m always intrigued to know how characters will react to a protagonist’s return to his old haunts I don’t know.
As for the acting it wasn’t bad but there was nothing to be impressed by. Channing Tatum like always, plays the blunt instrument, Shia LaBeouf plays Shia LaBeouf and I wanted to take Chazz Palminteri seriously but with the misplaced lines and ridiculous words coming out of his mouth I was bored. The best thing about the film is Rosario Dawson, who’s not even in the film for more then ten minutes. In fact why on earth such established actors like Rosario Dawson and Eric Roberts signed up for this I have no idea. Roberts doesn’t even make five minutes.
Furthermore Robert Downey Jr is hardly acting at all. There’s one intense scene where Downey Jr asks his father did he really love him, and starts bursting into tears. Although a pretty heavy, poignant scene it’s completely scattered. There’s not enough emotional build up or emotive uncovering from before for this scene to have any sentimental impact on the audience. And I think that’s probably the biggest undoing of the movie, there isn’t enough drama or conflict in the childhood sequences for us to care about what happens to these characters and we don’t really engage in the different relationships in the story.
In the end A Guide To Recognizing Your Saints is a typical coming-of-age-story and nothing more. With some bland performances, an ordinary directing style and perhaps one of the most disorganized scripts, I will go as far to say was there really any need to make this book into a film , because the characters really aren’t that interesting to explore.
Would you believe my surprise when I found out the man who wrote and directed the movie was in fact the man the story is based on, Dito Montiel. Do I have any further comments? Well this piece of news says a lot about the point of why this movie was made, which I’m still wondering what was the point of it all.