I took Angela and Katerina to see Alejandro Monteverde's newest offering, Little Boy last week. What a great movie! Why this film is not getting more buzz is beyond me.
Little Boy chronicles the experiences of 8 year old Pepper Busby toward the end of World War II as he desperately wishes for the return of his father from the Pacific Theater of battle. Pepper, nicknamed Little Boy, due to his diminutive size, believes he can use magic to bring his father home. Seeking the guidance of his parish priest, Little Boy is given a "magical" list of tasks to complete and told if he completes these tasks it will prove his faith and God will bring his father home. The "magical" list is actually the list of Corporal Works of Mercy: feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, clothe the naked, shelter the homeless, visit the sick, visit the imprisoned, and bury the dead. The priest adds one more task to the list: befriend Hashimoto, an unwelcome Japanese immigrant recently released from an internment camp. As Pepper faithfully completes each task and his hope grows, Hashimoto admonishes the priest, indicating he is misleading and giving false hope to the boy. Father Oliver insists God will bring Pepper's father home, if it is indeed His Will.
There was so much to love about this movie. I loved the stylization of the film and Monteverde's direction was wonderful. The film was completely stolen by the performance of Jakob Salvati as the title character; with excellent supporting performances by Emily Watson as his mother, Michael Rapport as his father and Tom Wilkinson as Father Oliver. It was lovely and refreshing to see the priesthood, faith and religion depicted in such a positive light. The story, although dark at times is truly beautiful and uplifting.
There was very little in this movie which would make me hesitate to recommend it as a family film. Due to some dark and emotionally disturbing moments and the repeated use of a racial slur directed at the Japanese. I would recommend this film to adolescents and older. The USCCB gives Little Boy an A-II--adolescents and adults.