Aroview: A ‘Mean Streets’ memoir of growing up rough in the eighties, this accomplished feature debut evokes its boys-in-the-hood tragedy with blood, sweat and tears.
Based on the dir’s own published autobiography, Montiel casts Robert Downey Jr. as himself, a successful author who returns to Queens, New York to confront his estranged, ill father (Palminteri). Meanwhile, Montiel’s conflicted teen years are recalled through newcomer LaBeouf, who’s torn between escaping the neighbourhood and defending it with his thuggish best friend (Tatum). Fielded with great tempo and a palpable energy, it’s a typically self-indulged portrait of one's youth, but is distinguished enough through brute performance and vivid period recreation that it belies its rookie filmmaking roots.
3 stars (Good Enough) With some brilliant scenes and great performances, A Guide to Recognizing your Saints is always emotionally-charged and energetic, if lacking in originality. Well worth a watch, but won't be remembered as a classic.~Tom H