Little Men

This is more my sort of thing, I have to confess, a gentle gem of an urban movie, set in New York – well, Brooklyn – and about how people live side-by-side in the city.

Little Men**** is by Ira Sachs, whose Love Is Strange went criminally under-rated last year, a Jewish, gay New York director. This is about a family – Greg Kinnear is an off-Broadway actor, Jennifer Ehle his psychotherapist wife – who move out of their small Manhattan flat back to the old family home on the death of his father.

They inherit the dress shop below, where the long-standing Latino tenant Leonor (Paulina Garcia) makes pretty clothes that don’t really sell. The old Dad lets her stay there for years without raising the rent, but now it’s an upcoming neighbourhood, Kinnear knows he can get five times the rent.

Meanwhile, Kinnear’s awkward 13 year old son Jake (Theo Taplitz) has struck up an immediate friendship with neighbourhood kid Tony, Leonor’s son, played by an amazing kid called Michael Barbieri. So their parents’ stand-off affects the kids.

Sachs merely observes. Scenes build and fade. Everyone’s brilliant, all the themes drift in and co-exist and brush against each other creating just enough friction for sparks. It’s just lovely to watch and you can feel the neighbourhood, the people, the minutiae of everyday worries and long-simmering family tensions. How wonderfully beguiling it is, but certainly not without pain and tears. It’s a film that feels a lot like life.

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