Little Men – a movie review by Roz Tarszisz

December 8, 2016 by Roz Tarszisz
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It’s the little touches that make this tale of childhood friendship from director Ira Sachs (Love is Strange) so engaging.  The story spans a small arc but for those involved, the consequences are life changing.

Jake Jardine (Theo Taplitz) and his parents Brian (Greg Kinnear) and Kathy (Jennifer Ehle) move from Manhattan to Brooklyn where Brian has just inherited his late father’s apartment and the shop downstairs.    Single mother Leonor Calvelli (Paulina Garcia –  magnetic in Gloria) is the Chilean dressmaker who leases the shop for her business.

Jake and Leonor’s son, Tony (Michael Barbieri),  instantly bond the way 13year boys do and are soon spending time together, with sleepovers and meals at each other’s homes.

Brian, a struggling actor, inherited the property together with his sister Audrey (Talia Balsam) and reluctantly has to press Leonor to sign a new and steeper lease.  Brian’s father did not charge a commercial rent and the increase is too high so relations between the adults become fractious. Leonor ‘s close friend Hernan (Alfred Molina) advises that the new owners are within their rights.

Oblivious to the ensuing row, the boys enjoy spending time together.  Jake, a talented artist, is more introspective while Tony is outgoing. Tony has acting aspirations and they would both like to get into LaGuardia High School of Music and Art – there’s a great scene where Tony and his acting teacher played by Mauricio Bustamente act out a scene of belligerence and hysteria with Tony holding his own.

When the parental problems register, the boys try to fix things, but this is the grownup world and they are about to learn how it works.   A pivotal scene when Leonor tells Brian that his father was not impressed that Kathy was the main breadwinner is all the more powerful because she knows just where to stick the knife in and twist it.

The boys travel everywhere on roller blades and the wobbly Jake is a more confident skater by the end.  You know that irrepressible Tony will also survive the schism. Both young actors are excellent , as are the adult performers.

The film was winner of the Grand Prize at 2016 Deauville Film Festival and delivers its delights in small but telling ways.

3.5/ Rated PG 85 mins Limited release  Out December 8

Starring Greg Kinnear, Jennifer Ehle, Pauline Garcia, Theo Taplitz, Michael Barbieri

Directed by Ira Sachs

Written by Mauricio Zacharias and Ira Sachs


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