Tuesday, October 03, 2006


A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints

Neorealism meets New York urban life in A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints, Dito Montiel's adaptation of his 2003 autobiography. Stylistically, it's a mostly happy marriage that translates the sweetness of The 400 Blows into a Mean Streets dialect, where childhood innocence slams into the pavement of an ugly world.

Montiel has three layers of presence in the film: In addition to serving as writer-director, his character is the story's hero, both as an adventuresome juvenile (Shia LaBeouf) growing up in Astoria, Queens during the 1980s, and in a present-day scenario (Robert Downey Jr.) struggling to confront his past. The last two are apparently embellishments on Montiel's real life, but the care with which he develops the solemn, irate protagonist leaves no question to where the story's sympathies lie: From the first scene, Montiel begins building up to a tale of redemption.

Read the rest of the review at The Reeler...


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