A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints
|A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints|
|Directed by||Dito Montiel|
|Produced by||Clara Markowicz
Robert Downey Jr.
|Written by||Dito Montiel|
|Starring||Robert Downey Jr.
|Music by||Jonathan Elias|
|Editing by||Jake Pushinsky
|Distributed by||First Look International|
|Release date(s)||September 29, 2006 (limited)
October 13, 2006
|Running time||98 minutes|
A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints is a 2006 American drama film based on a 2001 memoir of the same name by author, director, and musician Dito Montiel, which describes his youth in Astoria, New York during the 1980s. Montiel wrote and directed the film adaptation, which was released in the United States in September and October 2006 and in Europe in March 2007. The film stars Robert Downey, Jr. as Montiel with Shia LaBeouf as a younger Montiel.
Dito (Robert Downey Jr.) is a successful writer in Los Angeles. One day, after being urged by his mother, Flori (Dianne Wiest), and his friend, Nerf (Scott Campbell), Dito visits his childhood home, Astoria, New York, because his father has suddenly become very ill. The film switches back and forth between the present and flashbacks with Dito's memories in the summer of 1986.
Dito meets Nerf, and talks with him in a parked car, where they can talk undisturbed, which would not have been possible at Nerf's house. Dito then visits Laurie (Rosario Dawson), his childhood sweetheart, who is now a mother. They only talk through the open window; she does not let him in. Dito finally visits his father, Monty (Chazz Palminteri). Monty used to ignore Dito's feelings, and he didn't want Dito to travel. He is angry at Dito for leaving, and for not returning sooner to visit; he then sends Dito away. Laurie urges him to be a man and come to terms with his father, who was heartbroken when he left. Dito does leave, but returns later, to insist that he takes his father to the hospital.
Dito remembers Antonio's younger brother, Giuseppe (Adam Scarimbolo) - reckless, destructive, and possibly insane. In the 1980s, Giuseppe lay on a subway track; in spite of urgent warnings from his brother Antonio and Nerf, that a train was coming, he failed to get back on the platform and was killed
Mike O'Shea (Martin Compston), another friend of Dito's, was a Scottish boy who dreamed of becoming a musician. Mike and Dito had planned to go to California on a bus. They worked for a gay man, Frank (Anthony de Sando), with a dog-walking business. They went to his house to collect the wages he was slow in paying. At first he did not listen to them, but then he gave them all the money he kept in the refrigerator, more than he owed them and told them to leave town. Shortly after, Mike was murdered by a member of a Puerto Rican gang in retaliation for the murder of Reaper, after which Dito travelled alone to California.
Dito visits the adult Antonio (Eric Roberts) in prison and sees him as a changed man of wisdom. The film concludes with the two of them sitting down in conversation.
- Robert Downey Jr. as Dito Montiel
- Shia LaBeouf as young Dito
- Rosario Dawson as Laurie
- Melonie Diaz as young Laurie
- Eric Roberts as Antonio
- Channing Tatum as young Antonio
- Chazz Palminteri as Monty Montiel
- Dianne Wiest as Flori Montiel
- Scott Campbell as Nerf
- Peter Tambakis as young Nerf
- Federico Castelluccio as Antonio / Giuseppe's father
- Adam Scarimbolo as Giuseppe
- Martin Compston as Mike O'Shea
- Anthony de Sando as Frank the dog walker
- Michael Rivera as Reaper
- Eleonore Hendricks as Jenny
- Julia Garro as Diane
This film was Montiel's directorial debut.
Initially, Montiel refused to see LaBeouf for the part, having only seen him as the "Disney guy." Once he got to audition for the role, he "fucked his office up," putting a "hole through the wall" and went as "crazy" as he could in order to change the image Montiel had of him to land the part.
Dito Montiel states that all the characters in the film are a combination of at least three people and sometimes six or seven, although some characters are given the names of people from real life. Listed below are some of the main differences between four characters and their real-life counterparts.
Montiel said that he made the film because “I wanted to walk down those streets again and fall in love with Laurie again, it would have been nice to have had that moment at the end of the film where Dito met Laurie, reconnecting as adults." The real-life Laurie was Caucasian instead of Hispanic and died two years earlier from AIDS.
Montiel states that Antonio is a composite of three people. The book mentions a kid named Antonio Ruggeria who was sent to prison for manslaughter, escaped, and was later sent to prison again for things "that are even beyond putting in a movie that people might find redeemable." In the book, a copy of a newspaper article describing Antonio's escape from Rikers Island has the crime he committed blanked out.
The film shows Giuseppe getting killed on a subway track. The inspiration for the scene was a kid named Billy who was "riding" trains when he was killed. The real Giuseppe Ruggeria is a career criminal who was deported to Milan. Montiel describes the real Giuseppe as being like a cat. "The train would come and two seconds later he would pop up."
The Scottish character Mike is a composite of a man named Mike O'Shea; a kid named Ray, who used to go to the city with Dito, sniff amyl nitrite and smoke hashish; and Angelo Ruggeria (a younger brother of Antonio) who was later murdered. The real Mike O'Shea is Irish, alive, married, and living in Essex, England.
The film only made $2,035,468 worldwide. It currently holds a 75% "Certified Fresh" rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
Awards and nominations 
|2006||Director's Award||Dramatic, for Dito Montiel||Yes|
|Special Jury Prize||Dramatic, for the ensemble cast||Yes||Shared between Robert Downey Jr., Shia LaBeouf, Rosario Dawson, Chazz Palminteri, Dianne Wiest, and Channing Tatum|
|Grand Jury Prize||Dramatic, for Dito Montiel||No|
|2006||Best Actor||Dramatic, for Adam Scarimbolo||Yes|
|2006||Best First Screenplay||for Dito Montiel||No||Lost to Little Miss Sunshine|
|Best Supporting Male||for Channing Tatum||No||Lost to Alan Arkin for Little Miss Sunshine|
|Best Supporting Female||for Melonie Diaz||No||Lost to Frances McDormand for Friends With Money|
Home video release 
- "ChanningTatumUnwrapped.com". A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints European Movie Premiere. Retrieved January 18, 2007.
- Robinson, Tasha (2007-04-11). "INTERVIEW Shia LaBeouf". AV Club. Onion Inc. Archived from the original on 24 May 2011. Retrieved April 14, 2011.
- "Interview with Dito Montiel, director of A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints". Nycmovieguru.com. 2006-09-29. Retrieved 2012-02-04.
- [dead link]
- "Dito Montiel - A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints". Femail.com.au. 2007-09-27. Retrieved 2012-02-04.
- Dito Montiel, A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints (2007) pp 17 - 26
- Dito Montiel, A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints (2007) p25
- Dito Montiel, A Guide to Recognising Your Saints (2007) pp 81 - 83
- Dito Montiel, A Guide to Recognising Your Saints (2007) pp 89-91
- "Ain't It Cool News: The best in movie, TV, DVD, and comic book news". Aintitcool.com. Retrieved 2012-02-04.
- "ChanningTatumUnwrapped.com". A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints DVD Release. Retrieved January 18, 2007.
- Official website
- A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints at the Internet Movie Database
- A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints at AllRovi
- A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints at Box Office Mojo
- A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints at Rotten Tomatoes