Screened as part of NZIFF 2016
Two 13-year-old boys pit their friendship against the growing tension between their families in this touching tale of love and real estate from Ira Sachs, director of the like-minded Love Is Strange (NZIFF14). Jake (Theo Taplitz), a brainy, thoughtful kid, has moved into the Brooklyn house inherited by his father Brian (Greg Kinnear), an actor of no great note. Wife Kathy (Jennifer Ehle), a therapist, is the breadwinner. The shy Jake is befriended, to everyone’s delight, by the outgoing kid downstairs, Tony (Michael Barbieri), whose Chilean mother (Paulina García of Gloria) rents the shop on the ground floor for her dressmaking business.
All are under pressure financially, but when Jake’s parents up the rent downstairs, Tony’s mother digs in. Sachs details boyish friendship with affection and amusement. The less enchanted world of legacies, leases and law suits is conveyed without hostility: there’s misbehaviour for sure, but no villainy. The contrast of innocence and experience feels all the more poignant as a result.
“If Martin Scorsese was the quintessential auteur of New York in the 1970s and 80s – with its wise guys and street toughs – and Spike Lee that of New York in the late 80s and 90s – with its Balkanized enclaves and attitudes – then Ira Sachs is gradually becoming the quintessential auteur of today’s New York – the one of class inequality, and of relationships transformed by the changing city around them… He depicts this world with a clarity and generosity that lends it a richness far beyond what’s immediately on the screen.” — Bilge Ebiri, New York