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JAKOB SALVATI STARRING IN LITTLE BOY

2015 rating: ****
An instant backlash against LITTLE BOY occurred for being religious propaganda, yet there’s loads of mysticism while the most helpful character is downright Atheist. And years ago, two nice priests helped a kid in THE EXORCIST...

Although Jakob Salvati’s 8-year-old Pepper Flynt Busbee aka Little Boy, who could suffer from “Dwarfism” and really wants his MIA father to return from the Pacific during World War II, is his own person, completely.

Local priest Olivier, played by the always-dependable Tom Wilkinson, gives Boy a list: things that could help his own faith and to possibly get dad back home… The list itself not only serves as a plotline but includes suspenseful elements – the audience not sure who will be the person to befriend, to feed, and most important, to bury.

Poster Art
From Tatum O’Neal to Justin Henry to Anna Paquin to Haley Joel Osment to Quvenzhané Wallis, Hollywood has nominated and/or handed the Oscar to young people, and if Jakob isn't included – something's very wrong. The kid not only steals the movie, he completely owns it. With sad blue eyes conflicting with a stubborn, feisty determination lost in a world-weary haze, it's Boy verses everyone; particularly a menacing bully. The most creative scenes are of a fantastical nature, imagining pulpy adventures with dad in lavish cinematic settings while dreaming of becoming his favorite comic book hero.

Great Actor
Directed with a unique art house, fable quality (with a hilarious homage to Spaghetti Westerns) by Alejandro Monteverde, the beach town location, filmed in Mexico, both captivates and envelopes the story with vivid, blown-out cinematography resembling a child's reverie combined with the nostalgic era of postcards and magazines, where Boy and the other characters, including and especially his initial antagonist turned best friend, call home.

Enter Hashimoto (Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa), a Japanese resident loathed and feared by the townsfolk for simply being Japanese during wartime, providing a sort of retro KARATE KID Mr. Miyagi: a mentor believing in himself over God, and bringing our dreamer back to Earth. 

While Hashimoto’s kinship with the eccentric title character, who eventually thinks he has mystical power to literally change things, is heartfelt and ultimately satisfying, their connection overwhelms a wider, richer story where LITTLE BOY fights the odds, on his own terms, in one of the greatest child actor performances ever filmed.We'll have to see if anyone else noticed.
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