Sundance Review: Little Men
Not every Sundance movie gets a ton of attention. Some debut at the festival with little to no fanfare, even when they're directed by accomplished directors and feature strong actors. Sometimes they'll even get great reviews, and yet they still don't seem to draw much attention to themselves. Such is the case with Ira Sachs's latest feature Little Men, a film so simple and unassuming that it's easily being overlooked and lost in the shuffle of other great films.
Little Men is not a movie designed to blow you away, but rather to simply make you ponder life's little intricacies. The movie focuses on the friendship of two preteen boys: an easy friendship formed by proximity. These two live in their own world, enjoying their time together, and are oblivious to the problems of their parents. As such, they are not aware of their parents' feud over a lease that threatens to destroy their respective realities. There's something wonderful about the juxtaposition of the world of the adults with the world of these two preteen boys. The problems and disagreements we face as adults are messy and driven by many different factors (though usually with money being involved, as in the case of his parents.) Meanwhile, the existence we live as kids seems so much purer. Differences still exist, especially when bullying occurs (as it does in a scene here)...but there's a far more trusting innocence that draws us to certain people that disappears when we're adults.
Little Men is a great portrayal of a friendship that only exists because of proximity. This to me reflects the type of friendships you had as a kid that at the time you valued with all your heart, but when you grew up and became different people, (as well as physically and figuratively going separate ways...) the friendship dissipated. You discovered you really had nothing in common and the friendship was only really there to be a part of your life for a short time. I kept waiting for a scene where the two boys' bond was solidified but realized that when there was none...it was actually far closer to real life. When you're a kid, you don't need a reason to be friends with someone. You just spend time with them and that time is all the bonding you need. Whether it's playing video games or rollerblading in the park...just having someone to share your company is enough. It's not until we get older and more insecure with the hurts we've had to experience that we allow those friendships to fade in favor of ones with people who understand the version of ourselves that we've become. Or as Greg Kinnear puts it, when you've reached the point that you can understand that your parents are just people too, trying to make the best decisions they can. There are varying levels of meaning you can derive from Little Men (some heavy-handed, others very simple), but for me, I took it at its core: a story about the relationships we have when we're young, and how life will turn us into the adults we become....the adults who build walls and look out for themselves above others. It's a simple film, but one I enjoyed. RATING: 7.5/10