A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints (Montiel, 2006)
Writing an auto-biography can’t be easy. Writing, then directing a film version of your auto-biography can’t be easy either. So let me get my minor quibble out of the way. The director making himself out to be a bad guy for making the central life decision seen in this film is sad. Realizing he needed to break the cycle of complacency towards violence, hatred, and failure was the right move.
Okay, with that being said, I felt my heart break watching his honest depiction of his youth in this impoverished, violent neighborhood. Entrapped in the most complicated of ways, he wasn’t in a situation where there was no good surrounding him; his friends and family, while all deeply flawed, still loved him as best they knew how. But at the same time they were still harming him without even knowing it. The complexities of his numerous relationships were incredible and presented with such ease to where no one felt pigeon-holed as a ‘point’, but instead all felt like actual people working through their own confusions and insecurities. But in the end this is about a young man who recognizes something about his situation that no one else can see, and when he’s pushed past his breaking point, doesn’t give in to apathy. Nothing about this is easy to view, but everything about it is important to see. 9/10