Release Date: Sept. 2, 2016
Running Time: 85 minutes
Trust parents to get in the way of a burgeoning friendship. Little Men, writer/director Ira Sach’s grounded follow up to his endearing Love is Strange, focuses on the business issues that threaten to harm the relationship between two preteen boys growing up in Brooklyn. All seems fine when Greg Kinnear’s theater actor Brian Jardine inherits his late father’s apartment. Downstairs is a dress shop that is leased by Paulina Garcia’s Leonor Calvelli, whose silence at the beginning of Little Men signals her awareness that Brian is not going to be as kind and generous toward her as his father was. Brian’s son Jake, played by Theo Taplitz, starts hanging out with Leonor’s son Tony, who is played by Michael Barbieri. Jake is unfortunately labeled a social misfit because of his interest in art, but Tony finds a kinship in Jake because he is an aspiring actor. Once Brian and Leonor start talking and disagree on money, Jake and Tony slowly find themselves in the crossfire. While Brian is viewed as the bad guy in his son’s eyes, Sach thankfully does not feel the same. Little Men treats Brian as a husband and a father who is looking to provide for his family in the same way his wife does. The darker moments aside, Kinnear makes Brian a family man who is easy to empathize with. Sach also treats Leonor with the same degree of respect. She’s a small business owner fearful of being priced out of a gentrified neighborhood. So it’s understandable why Garcia would make Leonor somewhat aloof and defensive. The dispute looks to ruin a perfectly good relationship between two boys who enjoy each other’s company and are fascinated by each other’s interests. The closeness between Theo Taplitz and Michael Barbieri as Jake and Tony, respectively, comes across as real and honest. They also deliver performances that aren’t varnished to make them more or less likeable than Jake and Tony already yet. While Little Men doesn’t pass judgment on Jake and Tony’s parents for their showdown, it’s shame that their actions possess the potential to drive a wedge between such a strong and vital friendship.
Aired: Sept. 1, 2016
Web site: http://www.littlemenfilm.com