Our coverage of the 2016 Inside Out LGBT Film Festival continues with Ira Sachs’ Little Men, a slice of life drama about the intrusion of adult problems into the lives of teens.
Let’s bitch it out…
At the request of the filmmakers, the following is a brief review of the film. A longer post may go up when the film arrives in theatres later this summer.
At first glance, Little Men is a simple story about the friendship between two boys: Jake (Theo Taplitz) and Tony (Michael Barbieri). They come into contact early in the film when Jake’s grandfather dies, leaving the family his Brooklyn home, which includes a dress shop on the ground floor. Tony is the son of Leonor (Paulina García), the Chilean seamstress who runs the shop and the two boys become fast friends over a shared love of video games and a desire to attend LaGuardia, a prestigious art school, the next year.
The bloom of friendship is a pleasure to watch, delivered by director Sachs in slice of life sequences (Tony defends the more introverted Jake against the neighbourhood boys while Jake orchestrates an opportunity for Tony to dance with a girl from his acting class). Their adventures are scored to a jaunty, upbeat score that reinforces the carefree lives of boys.
The intrusion of their parents changes that delicate state and complicates their lives. When Jake’s parents Brian and Kathy (Greg Kinnear and Jennifer Ehle) decide to raise Leonor’s rent, the relationship between the two families is soured in a way that allows Sachs and writer Mauricio Zacharias to address class, gentrification, friendship and loyalty.
Sachs is an extremely confident director, patiently teasing out long takes that enable his actors to dig deeply into their characters’ motivations. Little Men is an unhurried, very human film that bemoans the adult circumstances that intrude on childhood, all the while acknowledging that these events contribute to the adults we eventually become. It is a great, lovely, enjoyable film.
Little Men screens Wednesday night at 9:45pm at Inside Out and arrives in theatres on August 5.