Best Of

Best New Film About Gentrification


In Ira Sachs’s Little Men, two boys become best friends when their families are brought together over the legacy of a Brooklyn brownstone. The parents of Jake (Theo Taplitz) have just inherited the building from his recently deceased grandfather; Tony’s (Michael Barbieri) mom owns the small dress shop on the ground floor. Unfortunately, a disagreement over the fate of the shop threatens to tear the two families apart; as the adults secretly negotiate and argue, the kids get even closer, bonding over their dreams of going to LaGuardia High School of Music, Art, and Performing Arts. It’s a simple enough setup, but the director’s compassionate approach makes all the difference. This is a film not just about high real estate prices pushing out former tenants, but about people from all walks of life struggling to survive and prosper in a changing city. And while Sachs sees in the fate of this shop a metaphor for a transforming world, he never loses sight of the people at the center of his story. Other filmmakers would hint at the human perspective and plunge right into the drama of the dispute. Sachs hints at the drama but indulges the human element. And he avoids taking sides, instead showing how the hopes and dreams of youth are part of a never-ending cycle of discovery and disappointment. Opened in theaters August 5, 2016