A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints

Opens at Harvard Exit, Fri., Oct. 13. Rated R. 98 minutes.

They say youse can never go home again, but Queens-bred big-timer Dito Montiel revisits his old Astoria stomping grounds in this Sundance-sanctioned testosterone indie, loosely based on the thirtysomething writer-director and occasional fashion model's neo-Beat semiautobiography of the same name. A slumming Robert Downey Jr. plays the movie's Dito, an L.A. hipster scribe called by Ma (Dianne Wiest) to come back to Astoria to see the old man (Chazz Palminteri) before he croaks. This triggers extended flashbacks to the moist summer of '86, when teen Dito (fresh-faced Shia LaBoeuf) came of age by stayin' alive Saturday Night Fever–style with his crew of fellow pubescent hotheads. Whatever the first-time filmmaker  lacks in subtlety and finesse—not even the snow-white Sundance Screenwriters' Lab could bleach Montiel's script of its corner-deli grit—he recoups by hiring genius cinematographer Eric Gautier (Clean) and by other, more playfully attitudinal means. Indeed, beat for beat, the dialogue in Guide rivals classic rock for being familiarly catchy, skimping not at all on the bada-bing and yo yo yo en route to the relative gravitas of Downey's "Daddy, did you love me or not?" ROB NELSON

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