A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints 2006

Critics score:
76 / 100

Reviews provided by RottenTomatoes

Jessica Reaves, Chicago Tribune: The memoirist turned screenwriter turned director has hit it out of the park with his first feature, crafting an unflinching, often brutal retrospective of his formative years in Astoria, Queens. Read more

Christy Lemire, Associated Press: Guide is rich in nostalgia but it goes nowhere. Read more

Logan Hill, New York Magazine/Vulture: Montiel's debut packs a visceral punch that most coming-of-age tales do not. Read more

Jonathan Rosenbaum, Chicago Reader: Given all the filmed memory pieces about screaming, violent Italian-American families in New York boroughs, I'm not especially thrilled by even a well-made example. Read more

Jeff Shannon, Seattle Times: It's not the whole, rough-edged film that appeals most, but the individual moments that feel exactly right, accumulating to form a lasting impression. Read more

Richard Roeper, Ebert & Roeper: A misfire. Read more

Bob Longino, Atlanta Journal-Constitution: Populated with actors who know their characters so intimately they seem to spring to life from the screen. Read more

Scott Tobias, AV Club: Montiel attempts to interweave past and present, but he yields so much time to his teenage years that the present-day material comes perilously close to looking like a framing story. Read more

Richard Nilsen, Arizona Republic: Like an O'Neill play, its virtues are not in well-constructed ideas but in the emotional catharses it wrings out of its audience. Read more

Wesley Morris, Boston Globe: The first-time filmmaker aspires to show us what caused him to leave his neighborhood and stay gone for 20 years. All I can really glean is that the place was too loud. Read more

Kevin Thomas, Los Angeles Times: There's a quality of daring in Montiel's approach, trusting that the intensity of his feeling for his characters can become contagious. Read more

Michael Booth, Denver Post: Though A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints is not a great movie, I prefer its street-grit version of adolescent desperation to the arch, mannered tone of Running With Scissors. Read more

Tom Long, Detroit News: Montiel brings enough of his own emotional confusion and life experience to the party to make the cuts feel real, to make one more tale of mistakes and mangled youth worth following. Read more

Lisa Schwarzbaum, Entertainment Weekly: The gods of cool appear to have kissed Dito Montiel's fingertips. Read more

John Monaghan, Detroit Free Press: Guide gets the details right, recalling the minutiae of Dito's teen years -- from clothes to conversations -- with near-psychoanalytical clarity. Read more

Scott Foundas, L.A. Weekly: It's forceful and alive and spilling over with crazy poetry. Read more

Gene Seymour, Newsday: The flow of flashbacks isn't as seamless as it could be. But, as noted, coping with one's past is never as neat as most other movies make it out to be. Read more

Jack Mathews, New York Daily News: 'Stick to the book' isn't always the best advice for a screenwriter adapting a best- seller, but when it's his own memoir, it would lend a more certain authenticity. Read more

James Berardinelli, ReelViews: A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints illustrates that it's still possible to do something interesting with a familiar premise. Read more

Andrew O'Hehir, Salon.com: The praise heaped upon A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints is way too much, way too soon. Read more

Ruthe Stein, San Francisco Chronicle: The results, although a bit uneven, are never less than compelling to watch and won a couple of awards at Sundance last year, including a directing prize. Read more

Dana Stevens, Slate: Saints is so personal and site-specific a work that it's hard to imagine what Dito Montiel will pull out of his hat for an encore. But even if this is the only movie he has in him, the Queens kid hasn't done so badly for himself after all. Read more

St. Louis Post-Dispatch: Read more

Liam Lacey, Globe and Mail: The movie never answers the question of why, exactly, the audience should care about these characters. Read more

Peter Howell, Toronto Star: It takes a while to recognize these saints, but the effort is worth it. Read more

Ben Walters, Time Out: The plot itself might not break much new ground, but the telling, by both cast and crew, makes this a memoir to remember. Read more

Robert Koehler, Variety: The effect is one of a fabulous acting showcase more than a wholly finished work. Read more

Rob Nelson, Village Voice: Blessed enough to have drawn Gautier and Downey away from better-paying gigs, the kid hasn't likely failed to recognize his saints. Read more

Ann Hornaday, Washington Post: Pulses with the honesty and spontaneity of early films by Martin Scorsese and Spike Lee. Read more