Thursday, October 06, 2016

Little Men - a delicately constructed inheritance fight (QFT until 13 October)

Two boys form a friendship but find it tested all too quickly when a family move into their dead grandfather’s Brooklyn apartment above the shop he rented out to a dressmaker. Little Men reveals the upstairs downstairs tussle over rent values spill over into childhood affections. At first the children strike back in solidarity at their parents, before the adult games take their course and a life lesson is taught.

Paulina GarcĂ­a plays Leonor the dressmaker who feels that she should have the upper hand in the negotiations given her long history with the deceased. Her confident son Tony (Michael Barbieri) bonds over video games with the similarly aged but quiet and creative Jake (Theo Taplitz). His mother Kathy (Jennifer Ehle) is a psychotherapist who fails to defuse the rising tensions as her actor husband (Greg Kinnear) and his sister (Talia Balsam) decide how to realise the value from their inheritance in the changing neighbourhood.

There are no heroes. There is no melodrama. Ira Sachs’ film seems to deliberately dawdle as it unfolds its carefully crafted tale. Every scene seems delicately constructed and given sufficient space to allow it to be peeled back in the audience member’s mind to unearth significance in its dialogue, and parallels between and across families.

At times, the understatement of Little Men verges on the humdrum, before another scene will steal your attention and imagination. While the financial arrangements bring people into conflict, lots of other emotional, relational and identity trip hazards are deftly sidestepped in a way few screenwriters could normally avoid.

Don’t hold your breath for a neatly wrapped up happy ending. But do savour the richness of the eighty minute study of the sad entanglement of two families and impact on the two lad’s friendship.

Little Men will be screened in the Queen’s Film Theatre between Friday 7 and Thursday 13 October.

No comments: