Little Boy (M)

In a word: Quirky

 

"This is a delightful, quirky and complex film is filled with emotional power as it tells a beautiful story of love, forgiveness and redemption and the power of faith to move the human heart."

Eight-year-old Pepper Flynt Busbee (played by Jakob Salvati) was a ‘little boy’; very short for his age and not well liked by any in the town of O’Hare. Except for his father James (Michael Rapaport) – his “only friend” and partner in all sorts of adventures.

Life for Pepper, however, takes a dramatic turn when World War II breaks out and his hot-headed older brother London (David Henrie) is refused entry to the army thanks for his flat feet, meaning his father must instead go in his place while London stays home to run the family garage.

Desperate to bring his father back and inspired by his hero, the crime-fighting magician Ben Eagle (Ben Chaplin), Pepper embarks on a journey which challenges what the essence of faith – believing that the impossible can be possible - is all about.

Key to his journey is “The List”, a document given to him by his priest, Fr Oliver (Michael Wilkinson), which details what faith is all about – feeding the hungry, sheltering the homeless, visiting those in prison, clothing the naked, visiting the sick and burying the dead.

But the priest adds a seventh line - befriending a Japanese man recently released from an internment camp named Hashimoto (Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa) after Pepper made known his hatred of the ‘enemy’.

As he tries to do the latter (the hardest part of which lies in confronting his fear and beliefs about ‘the Jap’), Pepper finds out what prejudice is all about as well as the power of belief (including, as the film shows, that belief can at times be misguided).

Directed and co-written by Alejandro Monteverde, Little Boy features some solid performances – among them Tagawa, Wilkinson and Emily Watson as Pepper’s mother as well as Salvati’s. Kevin James also makes an appearance as the rather needy widower Dr Fox. It’s also a photographically pleasing film to watch - there is, as producer Eduardo Verástegui has reportedly said, a “Norman Rockwell sensibility” about it.

One of the strengths of the storyline is its lack of preachiness - there is much that is left unresolved at the film’s end and a couple of uncomfortable moments which give plenty of pause for thought. While events may be neatly tied up, the message is one to be worked through.

This is a delightful, quirky and complex film is filled with emotional power as it tells a beautiful story of love, forgiveness and redemption and the power of faith to move the human heart.