Monday, April 17, 2006
Must See Film: Little Manhattan
"The truth is you come into this world alone and leave it the exact same way...Love is an ugly, terrible business, practiced by fools. It'll trample your heart and leave you bleeding on the floor. And what does it really get you in the end? Nothing but a few incredible memories that you can never shake." So says Gabe, the 11-year-old narrator of Little Manhattan, a film that got away in 2005, but is just waiting to be discovered on DVD. I have never seen a more sincere or knowing or insightful look at first love, through the eyes of a child. I still remember these moments in my own life. I miss that time in my childhood when I had the luxury of pining for a girl -- a time so uncluttered by responsibilities, I could spend hours, days, weeks on end thinking of the girl of my dreams. Surely you can remember a similar time in your life. A time when your every breath, your every heartbeat was regulated by a response you received, or a gesture in your direction by the person that made your mouth dry and palms sweaty. Surely you remember the thumping of your heart pounding against your chest, or the butterflies in your stomach when you passed this person's house or saw them in the neighborhood. How every day was an eternity, and every waking thought went to your next moment together. Surely you remember. If you do, you will embrace Little Manhattan for its ability to recreate those moments with such sincerity. It's not easy to live inside the mind of the love-sick 11-year-old Gabe, but Little Manhattan's first person narrative style (similar to The Wonder Years) thrusts us into this protagonist's mind in ways that just left me smiling. I remember thinking the same things, for the same reasons. This film enters high on my list of all-time favorites. In ways that a film like Say Anything isn't able to do, Little Manhattan -- in part because of the age of its leads -- is able to convince us of the anguish felt by lost love. This film is filled with raw honest moments. "I love you. I love you. I love you," says Gabe to Rosemary, the 11-year-old girl of his dreams. Then, met with a sheepish silence, he asks "You, um, think you might want to love me too?" But this film knows moments like this are not meant to turn into "happily ever after" when you're 11. You go your way. She goes hers. These moments last a couple of weeks. Maybe a couple of days. If you're lucky, a summer. But you never forget. Sure life changes, and "business of living" clutters your mind. But deep down, you never forget what it was like to have a moment in your life, when all you thought about was her, and her eyes, and her smile and the way you thought your heart would pound through your ribs. If those moments still mean anything to you at all, I implore you to watch Little Manhattan. Because, perhaps, this film is the home movie of your memories from that time. It was for me, in ways I didn't even think were possible. I know this 11-year-old boy. He's me.