Money can destroy friendships, no matter how old – or young – you are. Little Men follows two 13-year-old best friends Jake (Theo Taplitz) and Tony (Michael Barbieri) whose relationship is at risk because of a dispute between their parents over money.
When Jake’s grandfather dies, Jake’s dad Brian inherits a flat, which the family moves into, and a shop downstairs. Quiet, artistic Jake has never really had friends, but he soon meets Tony, the son of Leonor, the woman who rents the shop, and they quickly become inseparable.
But when Brian learns how little rent his father charged Leonor, he tells her he has to increase it, but still keep it below market value. Leonor begs him not to, explaining how she looked after his dad when he was ill. But Brian insists.
The first 30 minutes of the movie focus on the developing bond between Jake and Tony. It creates the foundation for what happens as war breaks out between the adults, which demands sympathy for all the adults, but far more for the unwilling child participants.
It’s a refreshing storyline and perspective, focusing on the children’s interests despite not being a “children’s film”. The two boys find themselves in something of a platonic Romeo and Juliet situation, which is poignant, and will force you to consider what you’d do if you were in their situation.