Subtle, sweet, if at times hackney. Little Men, a well shot film set in Brooklyn, depicting the life of two distant boys.
Theo Laplitz (Jake Jardin) and Michael Barbieri (Toni Cavelli) perform well, if not stilted work. However, much of their stiffness comes from placement within the film, that is a play within a play motif. The film is solely dependent on their performance as they adeptly channel their emotions.
Greg Kinnear, Jake’s father Brian, creates tension when he is locked in a difficult property battle, following the loss of his father, with Paulina Garcia (Leonor Calvelli). He must decide whether to evict her from clothing shop. Their confrontations are often pointed, questioning Brian’s ability as a son. Often these episodes mirror the closeness he has with his son, Jake . Nevertheless, these interactions often appear forced. Who would tell the person who is deciding their fate that his father was ashamed of him? Apparently, Leonor can. I, personally, had a hard time believing that.
Ira Sachs acts as Director. His turn throughout the film is well-balanced in the use color-pallets, with splashes of green and gold throughout. He has a knack for setting theater-like set-ups with character positioning. His use of tracking shots as the two boys cruise through Brooklyn gives an amazing sense of the boys’ distance from each other and those surrounding them.
The two boys are cast in the middle of this fight between parents, which does not appear to have a wrong side. The only wrong is done by the parents, Brian and Leonor. They are the children. Unable to be truthful or fair to their sons, Jake and Toni are left to be the grown-ups in an interfamily rift. While Jake and Toni can never fully defy their parents, their ability to remain true to who they are makes them the men among children.
Meanwhile, Brian and Leonor are left to pick-up………Greg Kinnear is especially……Gary……a Little Miss Sunshine……Philadelphia Eagle. He can be outrageous in his……bumble bee…….he be so……Richard Hoover……Dick Vermeil. Ah, never mind. Just go see…