Tuesday 27 September 2016

Film: 'Little Men'

This was just what I needed to counterpoise yesterday's unsatisfactory cinema experience - and it's a mini-gem of a picture. As if seeing one boy in his early teens yesterday wasn't enough, here we have two of them! There any similarity ceases.

In Brooklyn, Greg Kinnear plays a theatre actor, and is moving in to his recently deceased father's apartment with his wife, (Jennifer Ehle who actually doesn't have all that much to do in this film) and his 13-year old son (Theo Taplitz). The flat is above a ground floor leased to a woman's boutique/dress shop managed by an English/Spanish-speaking woman (Paulina Garcia) who lives there with her own son of similar age (Michael Barbieri). 
Also in the background, appearing in just two short scenes, is Alfred Molina, speaking almost entirely in Spanish.  
Kinnear's father has bequeathed the flat to Kinnear and his married sister, living elsewhere, as well as the lease of the downstairs, that being at a specially favourable reduced rent as he'd had an amicable relationship with the woman as tenant.
Kinnear's modest income means that his family have to struggle to survive so they have no choice but to put up the rent for the woman below. She can't what they are asking and she digs her heels in regarding the only alternative, which is to close the shop and move out.
Meantime the two boys have got on well with each other from the word 'go' - freely sharing each other's possessions and rooms and going around together. They are dismayed when they hear about the friction that has arisen between the two households, which would entail one of them moving away. They decide on their own tactics to express to their respective parents their displeasure at what has happened.

The focus of the film is more or less equally shared between the two boys and the conflict between their parents. The story could easily have tipped over into predictable sentimentality but it skilfully avoids that. However, it's not a film for those who like their endings to be neatly cut and dried, a feature which is to no detriment at all to this under-90-minute production .

Director Ira Levin's last film was the impressive 'Love is Strange' (featuring Alfred Molina again, in one of the lead roles) and this well maintains that standard. Levin also co-wrote this one. I look forward to what he does next, but this one is most satisfying.......................7.5.


  1. Replies
    1. I wouldn't say that, J.G., but this is certainly one of the year's highlights. I fear that with the prospect of the films I intend to see over coming days, being on a 'roll' may be just wishful thinking.

  2. Ray,
    This film is on my list! Thanks!

    1. It's one of those infrequent films with modest ambitions but which comes up trumps, Ron. (Excuse me for using the 'T' word'.) It should please you.

  3. Greg Kinnear has been a surprise to me over the years. Thanks for this review. Maybe someday I'll get to see it!

    1. He's definitely one of the better ones, Mitch, and if his range of parts up to now has been a bit circumscribed he gives it his all in this one. The film is worth putting on your 'must-see' list.