Aug 18, 2008

[Movies] Little Manhattan (2005)

Little ManhattanYoung love is perhaps one of the most honest forms of love in the world, albeit one of the most shallow. While fast and fleeting for the most part, there's no questioning the sincerity of the emotions present despite the lack of depth.

The film Little Manhattan tried to explore this side of love and given the trailers at the time, I was drawn to the film and I definitely wanted to see it. It wasn't about big name stars or fantastic situations but it was just meant to be a good and honest story at its core. While I never managed to catch it at the cinemas, I did eventually get to see it one lazy morning on HBO. It's definitely one of those feel-good movies that are made even better when you share the experience with the man that you love and that's exactly how I got to see it that day.

Little Manhattan is the story of 10 year old Gabe (Josh Hutcherson), son of two parents in the middle of getting a full divorce and totally oblivious to the opposite sex. This all starts to change when he signs up for karate class and is partnered with 11 year old Rosemary (Charlie Ray), an acquaintance he's known since kindergarten.

From this initial encounter his feeling begin to blossom and he starts to realize that he just may be starting to fall in love with her. All this gets complicated when she reveals that she's leaving for summer camp in a few days - practically a death sentence from the perspective of a child. From here he needs to understand if he really loves her and if so, how will he let Rosemary know?

Josh Hutcherson's performance here was just amazingly good for one so young. As much as he had pretty extensive TV experience and a few bit roles in other movies in the past, this was the film that really got him to be the lead and helped him make more of a mark as an actor. How else can you explain the slew of movie deals that followed this one? The way he managed to present the plight of such a young boy making the first fearsome venture into love was just heartwarming and very, very quaint.

Charlie Ray was also rather good as the cool, calm and collected Rosemary who for the most part seems somewhat oblivious to the feelings starting in Gabe, although given we never get to hear her thoughts as we do Gabe, it's hard to definitely say for sure. It's a shame that she disappeared from the acting world shortly after this movie. I'd be interested to see how she'd develop in time.

A good added dimension to the story was the aspect of the divorce of Gabe's parents, as played by Bradley Whitford and Cynthia Nixon (of Sex and the City fame). It wasn't the main focus of the film, but it was an interesting side diversion that still applied to Gabe's plight. After all, how is he supposed to understand the workings of love and still have hope when he sees his parents have fallen out of it and are working to end their relationship?

The core concept was seemingly simple, but set against the diverse world of New York City, it was executed very well. They kids were New Yorkers in their own right, navigating the city and sharing those little tidbits of history that only long-time city-dwellers know of, all the while getting to know one another more and more. This two helped enrich the story and certainly made it more significant since it was about love and about the richness of the city as well. New York remains one of the few cities in the world that is significant enough to practically become a character in movies on its own.

If you want a movie that will make you feel good, a but gushy for love and amused at the younger, puppy variant of the emotion, then this is a good film for you to enjoy. Whether with friends or that special someone you share nights with, this is a nice movie that is better seen with good company.
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