A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints

A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints (2006)
★★★ / ★★★★

This movie contains a powerful story supported by powerful performances. Shia LaBeouf and Robert Downey Jr. are great as younger and older Dito, respectively. LaBeouf proved to me that he can carry dramatic pictures as well as action pictures. I really felt for him as a teenager who wants to spread his wings and fly–to actually become someone he can be proud of–but cannot do so because his family and friends tie him down whether they are aware of it or not. Downey Jr. is electric when he conveys his character’s frustration and anger toward his parents (Chazz Palminteri and Dianne West). As a teenager, Dito’s father never really paid attention to him. In many scenes, Palminteri seems to want to get to know about his son’s friend (Channing Tatum) more than his own. And it’s really heartbreaking because LaBeouf couldn’t tell if his father truly loves him. Melonie Diaz as young Laurie and Rosario Dawson as the older Laurie are wonderful as well. It’s interesting because Diaz always reminded me of Dawson, so I found it funny that they actually played the same person. Diaz and Dawson have this uncanny ability of making me smile whenever they’re on screen. They’re so good at embracing their characters and the audiences get to really feel for their plight. Although there are many elements that this movie tried to tackle (some argue that it’s unfocused), I thought it was effective because all the confusion and unanswered questions reflect the craziness of the characters’ lives. But the scenes that really got to me were the parts during LaBeouf and his Scottish friend, Martin Compston, would talk to each other. LaBeouf’s character never really got to be himself around his other friends because it is implied that sensitivity is a weakness. With Compston, they are able to talk about each other’s needs, wants, and dreams. One can definitely translate their relationship in a romantic angle but ultimately I thought it was friendship at its finest. It was so touching whenever they’d talk about running away to California with their band. Although it’s hopeful, it’s also really sad because I could sense the desperation of the characters–to get out of where they currently live. Directed by Dito Montiel (yes, it’s based on real life), this film surpassed my expectations. I thought it the picture would be just about tough neighborhoods but it’s really about wanting to become someone… more.

5 replies »

  1. I liked this movie when I saw it, but I admit the experience didn’t quite stayed with me. Still, it offers an interesting space for LeBouf to explore his acting skills, in between the blockbusters. I also think he’s well-cast in this movie because the disconnect between his persona and his boyish looks creates some instant tension.

  2. I agree–I liked it but it didn’t really stay with me for that long (Hence, 3 stars ouf of four. =P). After seeing this film, I want to see Shia in more dramatic roles. He was good in “Eagle Eye” and “Disturbia,” (and even “Transformers”) but I think he can Oscar material if he hones his energy on… well, crying and being depressed. =P

    P.S.: What do you think of Channing Tatum?

  3. Shia certainly has potential, but the most important thing is that he strikes a balance between the ‘heartthrob’ (though I personally don’t find him all that attractive) roles (like ‘Transformers’, which I despised, and ‘Indiana Jones’, that I just found to be average) and more serious stuff (life AGTRYS). If he succeeds at that, he’s in it for the long haul, but I’m not sure yet just how far he can go. He’s well on his way to stardom already, so let’s see where goes next.

    I haven’t seen Channing Tatum in other movies, but I think he did a decent job in AGTRYS. On a more personal note, he’s also kinda cute, but maybe a little too masculine for my taste.

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