For Reel

Little Men (2016)
February 28, 2017, 3:52 pm
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: , ,

Director: Ira Sachs
3.5 Stars
little-menJust as Love is Strange recalled the films of Yasujirō Ozu in the way that it quietly concerned itself with the passing of a generation and the burdens of familial responsibility, so too does director Ira Sachs’ followup unfold a gentle drama of small scale but enormously complex generational dynamics. Here, the friendship between an aspiring actor (Michael Barbieri) and his shy new neighbor (Theo Taplitz) is threatened by their respective parents who are undergoing a landlord-tenant dispute. The children, faced with the burdens of adulthood and identifying for the first time the harsh divide between intimacy and economics, later start a silent pact, recalling the hunger strike of the two boys in Ozu’s silent I Was Born, But…. For the most part, this film’s characters aren’t as memorable and dynamic as they were in Sachs’ previous feature, however Greg Kinnear’s Brian is an intriguing mess of contradictions—on the one hand, he is undoubtedly hurt by a recent family tragedy and simply doing the best he can, and on the other, he is completely oblivious to the destruction he is responsible for. Kinnear’s natural earnesty is tested in a late scene wherein he goads the two boys for compliments regarding his recent performance in Anton Chekhov’s “The Seagull,” eventually complaining that they don’t think of anybody but themselves. The character’s hypocrisy is evident to everyone involved, but Sachs allows it to go unspoken without an easy resolution.

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