Directed by Ira Sachs
Jake is a quiet, sensitive middle schooler with dreams of being an artist. He meets the affably brash Tony at his grandfather's funeral, and the unlikely pair soon hit it off. The budding friendship is put at risk, however, when a rent dispute between Jake's father, Brian, and Tony's mother, Leonor, threatens to become contentious.
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★★★★ review by davidehrlich on Letterboxd
It takes 12 minutes and 23 seconds to run from Jake’s apartment to Tony’s, but there’s an entire world in the space between their two Brooklyn homes. Thirteen-year-old Jake (a sensitive and severely empathetic Theo Taplitz) is a white fourth or fifth generation American kid whose grandfather — the longtime owner of a small apartment building — has just passed away. Tony (Michael Barbieri, a pint-sized Robert De Niro) is the son of a Chilean immigrant, and his mother — a sharp seamstress played by “Gloria” star Paulina García — has rented the retail space on the ground floor of that same apartment building for as long as anyone can remember.
★★★★½ review by Jared on Letterboxd
Ira Sachs makes films about that guy sitting next to you on the plane, the woman in front of you in line and those kids crossing the street in front of you. Real people with real problems. This sentiment is so often abused, screamed from the mountaintops whenever a film doesn't tap into any supernatural or starkly unrealistic storytelling tropes. But Little Men makes it it's credo. This story, a muted piece about identity (sexual and otherwise), gentrification and the deep divide between a parent and their child. It's crushing in it's quietness, uplifting in it's levity. The 12 minute and 23 second journey between the two boy's respective homes may as well be endless with how much Sachs inserts into that space. Everyone in this story is tied to the environment around them, willingly and otherwise. I don't want to overstate the power in this, because it's really quite subdued. It's all derived from it's honesty, modesty and attention to detail; taking these people's lives for what they are, telling their stories without lionizing them with hyperbolic cop-outs. Little Men sneaks up on you.
★★★½ review by Vincent Lao on Letterboxd
Director Ira Sachs proved to be a keen, sensitive storyteller of the middle class New Yorkers. His singular if not, intimate introspective of these struggling middle class is profoundly perceptive and grounded. However, seeing my third Sachs film—following his sensitive LGBT dramas Keep the Lights On, and Love Is Strange—there is something minor and missing amidst the simplistic nature of his films. Little Men gravitates in its own constructed world and stays there. It never reaches out to the world at some extent. The film is really owned by the relationship of these two strong-willed boys and how they navigate life’s disparity as both of their parents clash on property.
There is the undeniable power of sensitivity in this that Sachs has proven in his other films, however all of his films feels as if they are hiding inside a shell and not really offering up something vital and unique to the ‘rest of the world’. I don’t know If I want something big from him, but I surely know that Sachs does not offer any stories that is different from his chosen point of view. The acting is great. Particularly Michael Barbieri who plays the fearless kid as well as Paulina Garcia who is controlled in every inch of her emotion. At the end, his singularly intimate perspective in Little Men is proven to be admirable but it rather feels short of things. I was expecting a little bit more.
★★★★½ review by Leo (Willem) van der Zanden 🔥⬇🏠 on Letterboxd
Honest. Relatable. True.
Those three words exactly describe my experience with Ira Sachs’ new film Little Men. As I already hoped and expected the story about two young friends, had a plot as loose as anything. Just like with Sachs’ last film Love is Strange, the driving aspect of the film was the portrayal of relations between the characters and with that, fortunately, enough was already happening. Though at first there doesn’t seem to be that much going on in the lives of the two young leads Jake and Tony (played by Theo Taplitz & Michael Barbieri respectively). They go to school, they have their dreams, they roam around the city and live their lives like any couple of friends. But underneath it something is brewing; things the two friends don’t immediately notice, but we, the all seeing audience do. Something is about to pull these friends apart to show the reality of friendship; it’s true meaning. Because friendship, in the end, isn’t highly philosophical meanderings and lengthy monologues. It is a simple yet meaningful outburst at the time when it is most needed.
The little bit of plot that surrounds these otherwise plotless lives mostly has to do with money problems in both of the boys respective families. I don’t think I have to say more than that. You can basically figure out yourself where such a setup may lead and spoiling it wouldn’t even hurt it, because with a film like this, you shouldn’t be watching for the plot. You should be watching for the truth. The unbelievable truth of these simple, yet complex, yet darn interesting common people trying to get through with their lives. And in the center you find the most innocent heart a film could ever have, two boys and their friendship.
This is mainly where the beauty of this film lies, it keeps the audience informed with the “impending doom” and leaves its main characters be. This strangely enough feels eerily similar to my own life. I’m not saying my parents have ever had huge money troubles, but I can remember having relationships like these, I can remember the life without worries that was sometimes slowly and sometimes with enormous bangs coming to an end and by God, when at a certain point the truth comes up, one of the two boys breaks down and that is just how I would turn into tears. That crying-scene, delivered by such a young actor shows so much promise. Even though the two young actors have their little missteps here and there, their overall portrayal is one to remember. Once again it is filled with pure honesty, it’s like Sachs just let them be the kids they actually are.
Ira Sachs shows once again that you don’t need buckets full of unnecessary drama, you can find it in the simplest little things. You can look at your own house, your own family and find the most awe-inspiring, universally accessible tales ever imagined.
Kudos to you, Mr. Sachs.
★★★★ review by MasterLundegaard on Letterboxd
Quiet struggles in an urban jungle. Devastation and desperation infused through the most plain-spoken of small talk. Sachs' vision of small towns with big issues is unlike any other in its simple charms and heartbreaks: the subjects at risk, given such a deeper humanity to their problems and reactions, and the witnesses, recognizably blase but not at all out of touch with the suffering around them. Little Men paints real struggle on a large enough canvas. A canvas of people, with hopes and hurts, and, beautifully, nothing unnecessary stacked on. A-
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