I just had the privilege of seeing the premiere of Little Boy courtesy of the Archdiocese of Boston’s generous benefactors who bought out the Burlington AMC for the night. While I couldn’t pass up a free movie in the theater, or a chance to take my youth group (and kids) out, I found the trailer to be charming as well. Seemed like a win-win.
Directed by Alejandro Gómez Monteverde, the movie is set in the 1940s and dances between a child’s desire to bring his father home from the war and the town’s racism toward a Japanese resident. Jakob Salvati, who plays the main character, was absolutely talented in each emotion he portrayed, and he portrayed a lot of emotions! The scenes spared no offense in cutting right to the heart of what people thought of the Japanese in those times, nor of how traumatic a loved one’s departure for war can be to an eight year old. I had a few moments of concern at how my young ones (six and seven) would react to the tear-jerking moments when Salvati cries his heart out, but they seemed to better than I did. There were a few jumps to more imaginative scenes, mirroring what may have been going on inside the main character’s mind, which confused my son. Some of those scenes were a bit scary to him, but no blood and gore, so he got through.
As for the faith aspect, well played indeed. There was an explanation by the parish priest, Father Oliver (Tom Wilkinson), as to how faith really works. If you keep that in mind while watching the whole movie, you’ll see the fantastic miracles are both explainable and works of faith at once. There is plenty of room for growth in each character as they break down the barriers of racism and doubt. Of course this movie is meant to please the audience more than wretch our emotions, so the ending wraps up in a sweet and reassuring manner, but I won’t say more.
The ‘feels’ are a rollercoaster, the directing is not subtle, but the acting is surprisingly versatile and the movie as a whole is quite enjoyable. It may not make block buster, but it should make its point if you care to see it. The movie encourages both the hope of a child and the removal of all hatred. With the faith of a mustard seed (Matthew 17:20), we really can move mountains, if not by our own power then by His.