Saturday, June 09, 2007

A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints: Grade C

A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints (2006)

Robert Downey, Jr., Chazz Palminteri, Rosario Dawson, Dianne Wiest, Shia LaBeouf. Writer, Director: Dito Montiel

A long series of clich├ęd vignettes are strung into a loose story about an adolescent and his friends growing up on the mean streets of Queens in the 1980’s. Chazz Palminteri is the father, and although the Italian patriarch stereotype is a sort of Godfather, Palminteri escapes the Mafia schtik to deliver a standout acting performance. Dianne Wiest is terrific although she is directed badly, rushing her lines. Dawson has a small part, an “appearance” really, but she shines. Downey has a moment with her, but mostly he is catatonic. The rest is the usual tough kids talking tough, smoking, stealing, screwing, fighting. We’ve seen it all before. The Lords of Flatbush did it better in 1974. The second half becomes slightly more linear but not enough to save a story. The sets, costumes, and dialog are good. That, and some pockets of acting, raise the project up to watchable.

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