Money drives the conflict in Little Men, a low-key slice-of-life family drama slash coming-of-age story. The center of the movie is Jake, an artsy thirteen-year-old (Theo Taplitz). After his grandpa dies, leaving his struggling actor dad (Greg Kinnear) property in Brooklyn, Jakes’s parents pluck Jake out of Manhattan and relocate him to Brooklyn, where he’s befriended by Tony (Michael Barbieri), the gregarious son of Leonor (Paulina García). Until Jake’s grandpa died Leonor’s struggling clothing business had been surviving by the good graces of the grandpa who never raised Leonor’s rent. Now Jake’s parents, in need of money, want to raise the rent. Leonor disagrees. Meanwhile Jake and Tony have been growing closer, which puts their friendship at odds with their parents’ financial quarrel. Artistically Little Men shines in one scene—set at a nightclub for tweens the scene showcases Ira Sach’s penchant for unfussy formalism, with wide shots and close ups and few cuts; it is energetic and atmospheric, perfectly capturing the mood and temperament of Jake and Tony and placing them within a larger context. The rest of the movie is a bit of a yawn. Although, if you shake your head at melodrama you may find the understated presentation a breath of fresh air. Ditto for the ending.
By Alec Julian & Carrie White