No Major Spoilers:
A Guide To Recognizing Your Saints is the forgotten movie of 2006. That was a big year for movies, so it was probably caught in the shadow of pictures like The Departed, Children of Men, and 300.
I watched it for the first time on an airplane and I had never heard of it. This is clearly the worst way to watch any movie. So I ended up purchasing the movie so I could give it a proper viewing. Each time I have watched the film since I have liked it even more.
Shortly after seeing the film, I traveled through Queens and Astoria, New York, which is where the story is set. I had never been there before but the people and the streets felt familiar to me. No movie had ever made me feel like I had been somewhere before. That is an incredible testament to the quality of realism.
Anyway, you are probably familiar with all the movies out there based on books that are a disappointment to the source material. I always wonder, “Why did they make that change? It was so much better in the book.”
Well, this is a film that was actually written and directed by the author of the book with the same name. And it's good. Its a compelling and profound coming-of-age story about Dito Montiel (the author) growing up in Astoria, New York. The characters of the film show a real depiction of life in the city and its not pretty. But its very clear that the author loved these people deeply and carries haunting pain and nostalgia for those days.
The cast is full of big names: Robert Downey Jr., Channing Tatum, Shia LaBeouf, Dianne Wiest, Rosario Dawson, and Chazz Palminteri. Some of these names, I’m sure, you question—how can Iron Man and Magic Mike be taken seriously in a film like this? But they actually deliver impressive performances.
Our group of friends like to play a game: if you had to remove one actor from history, and every film they have ever appeared in would die with them, who would you choose? The popular choice for awhile was Shia LaBeouf. Nobody seemed to be too sentimental for the Transformers franchise, and wouldn't miss it if it disappeared. But I always defended LaBeouf because of this movie. I would hate to see it removed from film history.
All that to say, watch the film. I like it. Comment below and tell me whether or not you liked it.
Author: Tyler Hanns