Little Men

Director: Ira Sachs (2016) BBFC cert: PG

Greg Kinnear stars in this sincere and stagey snapshot of awkward adolescence. Brian is a struggling actor who inherits his father’s apartment and takes his family in a socially downward move from Manhattan to Brooklyn.

Brian is the smallest man in the film, buffeted by a domineering sister, emotionally blackmailed by his conniving tenant and frozen out by his distant wife. Talia Balsam, Paulina Garcia and Jennifer Ehle skilfully sketch the three very different women.

The focus of the story falls on the growing relationship between his son Jake and Tony, the son of the downstairs tenant. Theo Taplitz and especially Michael Barbieri are remarkably assured as the odd couple thirteen year olds, one artistic and shy, the other outgoing and sporty.

The hint of unrequited feeling from one of the boys is one of a number of plot strands the film fails to commit to. More than one character may be having an affair and past relations are hinted at. Half formed characters mingle with jokes about the plays of Chekhov.

It’s nicely observed and consistent of tone. But just like Brian, the film would rather bury itself in art than risk creating any emotional scenes.

@ChrisHunneysett

 

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