Writer-director Dito Montiel adapts his novel of the same name about his 1980s New Yawk adolescence, starring Shia LaBeouf as Montiel as a teenager and Robert Downey Jr. as the grown-up version. Channing Tatum, Chazz Palmenteri, Dianne Wiest, Rosario Dawson, Martin Compston and Melanie Diaz also star.
Big question: Will this tale of New York teens feel like its own story or a less shocking version of "Kids"?
Catch it: Acted and directed with truth and fury, "A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints" has a clarity of vision that can only come from a filmmaker telling his own story, blessed with perceptive hindsight and riveting performances all around. The young-to-old match between LaBeouf and Downey Jr. is good, but it's nothing compared to the flawless casting and acting of Diaz and Dawson.
Skip it: If you prefer coming-of-age stories involving sentimental stuff about Little League games and finding true love. "Saints" may overwhelm you with attitude.
Bottom line: It's easy to see why "A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints" took home acting and directing prizes at Sundance. A couple scenes feel like stuff we've seen before, but this is a stunning portrait of the paths paved by the people in our lives--particularly those who depart too soon--and a heart-wrenching account of the convergence between our past and our present.
Bonus: Pondering a title for your own memoir/movie? How about something less sappy than "A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints"?
Matt Pais is the metromix movies producer.
'A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints'
Directed by Dito Montiel; screenplay by Montiel; photographed by Eric Gautier; edited by Jake Pushinsky and Christopher Tellefsen; music by Jonathan Elias, Jimmy Haun and David Wittman; production design by Jody Asnes; produced by Charlie Corwin, Clara Markowicz, Trudie Styler and Travis Swords. A First Look Studios release; opens Friday. Running time: 1:38. MPAA rating: R (for pervasive language, some violence, sexuality and drug use).
Dito (adult) - Robert Downey Jr.
Dito (young) - Shia LaBeouf
Laurie - Rosario Dawson
Monty - Chazz Palminteri
Flori - Dianne Wiest
Antonio - Channing TatumCopyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times