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Movie on TV: A Guide To Recognizing Your Saints

(Explicit ***)

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.

Shia LaBeouf as young Dito with Channing Tatum as young Antonio(Courtesy of http://www.allmoviephoto.com/photo/2006_a_guide_trys_013_big.html)

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.

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6 responses to “Movie on TV: A Guide To Recognizing Your Saints

  1. I havent watched the movie and after reading your review i probably wont :p I’m surprised that it turned out to be that bad usually when you have a really bad script the actor or directors make it tolerable. Then again it seems to me it was the directors fault the movie was so crappy because the cast is filled with stars then again you can argue since the movie was based on him that he was showing you the reality of his story there’s no sweet talk and background music in reality but then again this is supposed to entertain so I’m not sure that was a good decision.. “Stand by Me” and “The Breakfast Club” will always the best coming of age movies in my opinion/

  2. Stand be me is a classic film! The problem with this movie it has such a great cast yet none of them have been given anything good to work with. Robert Downey and Rosario Dawson are all fine in their roles, but those roles in the end are in supporting roles. They barely make 5 or 10 mins. As for Shia Labeouf and Channing Tatum, they are ones who have to carry the films. But Shia Labeouf, he just can’t lead films. Some consider him to be a charisma vacuum and this could be another case. What do you think of him as an actor?

  3. I think Shia has charisma and he’s still developing as an actor but his strongest point is in action movies. Action movies primarily need charismatic leading men and their plots rarely have strong emotional depth so their hardly any screen time to portray deep emotional conflicts. By your description i dont the role was right for him in the first place anyways.. I’m a sucker for old movies and im hardly pleased with the level of acting or quality of the movies now because now its rather the sexual appearance and glamor of the actors that attract box office tickets.

  4. I just bought this on DVD because it looked good (and, to be fair, was quite cheap). Not sure I will actually get round to watching it now. I like how honest you have been, good post.

  5. You should still check it out. I may have been a little bit harsh. 😛 But I really do believe there was a great cast employed, but the writer/director just didn’t make use of their talents. What do you think of Channing Tatum? I’m not sure what to make of him as an actor. He can dance (Step up to the the streets) and he can do fighting roles (GI Joe) but can he act, I don’t know. ?

  6. H – I know what you mean about glamorous actors attracting box office tickets. I just think back to The Tourist and Knight and Day, both of which were let downs. This may sound slightly ridiculous but I want to see Shia do a more comedic role. I really really liked him in Even Stevens 😛 It had a couple of episodes, I think 12, but I was such a sucker for that show. And he was really really funny 🙂

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