DENNIS SCHWARTZ Movie Reviews

LITTLE MEN (director/writer: Ira Sachs; screenwriter: Mauricio Zacharias; cinematographer: Oscar Duran; editors: Mollie Goldstein/Affonso Goncalves; music: Dickon Hinchliffe; cast: Greg Kinnear (Brian), Jennifer Ehle (Kathy), Theo Taplitz (Jake), Paulina Garcia (Leonor), Michael Barbieri (Tony), Talia Balsam (Audrey), Alfred Molina (Herman), Madison Wright (Julia), Mauricio Bustamante (Acting Teacher); Runtime: 85; MPAA Rating: PG; producers: Lucas Joaquin/Ira Sachs/Christos V. Konstantakopoulos/Jim Lande/L.A. Teodosio; Race Point Films; 2016)

"A remarkable subdued kitchen sink drama, that resounds with touching realistic characters and awkward real-life situations."

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Ira Sachs ("The Delta"/"Love is Strange") directs a remarkable subdued kitchen sink drama, that resounds with touching realistic characters and awkward real-life situations. Mauricio Zacharias is co-writer with Sachs. It's set against a gentrified Brooklyn background.

Two opposite personality 13-year-old Brooklyn students aspiring to enter an elite high school for the arts, the sensitive introspective aspiring artist Jake (
Theo Taplitz) and the outgoing brash aspiring actor Tony (Michael Barbieri), meet at the funeral of Jake's grandfather Max and become good friends at once. Jake's father Brian (Greg Kinnear) is a struggling actor and his mom Kathy (Jennifer Ehle) is a psychotherapist. They move out of their smaller Manhattan apartment to live in Brian's inherited Brooklyn house. Tony's Chilean immigrant struggling dress shop owner mother, Lenor (Paulina Garcia), runs a dress shop on the ground floor. The neighborhood has recently become upscale and the rents have jumped. Her old lease is too low for the current market, but when Brian offers a new lease that reflects a steep increase she balks because she cannot afford it. The relationship between the boys' parents becomes contentious, as lawyers are brought in and an eviction is threatened.

There are no villains in this even-handed and intelligently executed tale of urban conflict, as genuine feelings on all sides are uncovered. It's a sparse drama, that is beautifully observant.

Talia Balsam plays Brian's sister, who pushes the reluctant Brian to get a fair market price on the outdated low lease or get a new tenant.

REVIEWED ON 9/4/2016       GRADE: B+

Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"

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