Monday, January 2, 2017

Movie Review: "Little Men" (2016)

Image Source
Movie"Little Men"
Director: Ira Sachs
Year: 2016
Rating: PG
Running Time: 1 hour, 25 minutes

When Jake (Theo Taplitz) and his family move to Brooklyn, he finds a best friend in Tony (Michael Barbieri), the son of a local dress shop owner. After Jake's grandfather passes away, his father Brian (Greg Kinnear) now owns the building the dress shop is in. When a disagreement about raising rent costs occurs between Brian and Tony's mother Leonor (Paulina García), it causes trouble in Jake and Tony's friendship. 

"Little Men" is a coming-of-age story directed by Ira Sachs, who also wrote the film along with Mauricio Zacharias. It stars Theo Taplitz as Jake, an introverted young teenager with promising artistic abilities, but not a lot of friends. When he meets the outgoing, outspoken Tony, played by Michael Barbieri, the two hit it off and quickly become best friends. However, life is never so simple. Jake's father Brian, played by Greg Kinnear, has just inherited the building that houses Tony's mom's dress shop. When Tony's mom Leonor, played by Paulina García, has a conflict with Brian over the price she pays for her lease, it starts to drive a wedge into Tony and Brian's friendship.

Life is complicated, a lesson learned early by young Jake and Tony. Sometimes, there are no easy solutions, no heroes or villains, just the weight of life and the needs of two families coming to an impasse. Leonor was a friend to Brian's father, and as such, she has been paying rent far below market value for eight years, only $1,100 for a place now worth at least $5,000 in a newly gentrified Brooklyn. As rent costs are increasing everywhere, and since Brian hasn't been able to support his family as a low-level actor for quite some time, he and his sister Audrey, played by Talia Balsam, need the extra money to ensure their families survive. Leonor can't afford the increase and Brian and his sister can't afford to continue to charge her such cheap rent, no matter how close she was with their father. Of course, the cost may wind up being greater for their kids, especially for Jake, who doesn't have many/any friends besides Tony.

Everything in "Little Men" is handled in an honest and nuanced manner. The actors all offer top-notch performances, never venturing into the over-the-top or getting melodramatic with such a tense story. relative newcomers Taplitz and Barbieri handle their roles with maturity far beyond their years, but manage to remain youthful and spirited like teenagers. Greg Kinnear is fantastic as Jake's father Brian, a man who has relied on the support of his wife for years while he attempts to achieve his dream. All of this also comes at a cost. Paulina García is also spectacular here. She even picked up a much deserved Independent Spirit Award nomination for best supporting actress. She and Kinnear have some excellent scenes together ripe with subtly and truth.

We didn't really know what to expect going into "Little Men," but very much enjoyed it in the end. The acting is stellar, the story is realistic and candid, harsh but compassionate. This may be a smaller indie movie, but Ira Sachs has crafted a great, underseen gem here, one that we believe must be watched!

My Rating: 8/10
BigJ's Rating: 7.5/10
IMDB's Rating: 7.0/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 98%
Do we recommend this movie: Yes!

No comments:

Post a Comment