Indie Insider: A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints
This month is a little slow in the “indie” world, and with not much that has caught my eye, (other than finally getting to watch Shame, but that’s a whole other beast I’m tackling) I decided to take a look at one of my all-time favorite films.
Right now, Channing Tatum is literally everywhere you look. Billboards, magazines, movies, even Saturday Night Live. Right beside him is Iron Man himself, Tony Stark-- Robert Downey, Jr. Together, but in separate films, they have set the Big Screen ablaze. Millions of women are probably fantasizing about a powerful and sexy film that combined the two. Well, here I am, Shea Kimbrough, to tickle their fancies and let them in on a little secret. Not only does A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints combine a handsome Robert Downey with an unbuttoned shirt wearing, no-shit-taking Tatum, but it also has a young and innocent Shia LaBeouf!
A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints is written and directed by Dito Montiel, the same author who penned the book of the same name, and the same lost youth we see trying to make it off the streets of New York City alive, who fifteen years later, comes back and faces everything he left. He makes it though, that’s no surprise. But at what cost? That’s part of the journey.
The film is split up into two periods. The first is set during a summer in the late eighties and the second part follows Dito upon his return home to New York fifteen years later. LaBeouf plays the young Dito, and in my opinion does a terrific job. He just childish and niaeve enough to make his journey believable.
The older, wiser, but still as scared Dito is played by Robert Downey, Jr.. Robert Downey has always been a fabulous actor and he doesn’t disappoint here. Two scenes in the movie he really shows his acting skills. They give me goosebumps every time.
Channing Tatum was cast as Dito’s best friend, Antonio. I’m not a fan of Tatum. I think his acting skills lack much depth and that he’s cast as more of eye candy than a talent; however, with this role, I think he suits it well. Antonio has an abusive father and has an “agape” love for Dito and he will do anything for his best friend and his family. He is the alpha-male of the group and feels much grief if one of his friends strays from the pack.
The rest of the cast performs phenomenally well. Shining in the film is the lovely Rosario Dawson; Dianne Wiest; Chazz Palminteri; Melonie Diaz; and a gifted Anthony DeSando.
One of the first scenes that you come to, once all the opening credits come and pass, is a young Dito set against a dark, ambient Bronx. In this scene Dito looks at the camera and says something that reverberates throughout the entire film: “My name’s Dito. I’m going to leave everybody in this film.” It’s this scene that really sets the mood. What does he mean? How does this effect not only him, but everyone around him? If you enjoy the film, pick up the book; read and watch some interviews with the real Dito and you can truly see. His story is heartbreaking, but uplifting at the same time-- just like the film and memoir he created.