Little Man Tate [1991]

Genre: Drama
Jodie Foster and Dianne Wiest star in Foster's engaging directorial debut. Single mom Dede Tate is doing her best to raise her brilliant-but-lonely son Fred on a waitress's salary. Jane Grierson (Wiest), something of an expert on being brilliant but lonely, spots Fred's genius and wants to enroll him in her school for the gifted. It's a simple story, but it is very well told. Foster and Wiest both give excellent, sensitive performances, conveying the selfishness in each character's desire to have Fred to herself as well as the pain in not being able to fulfill all his needs on her own. Adam Hann-Byrd gives a remarkable performance as Fred, showing his intelligence without getting precious about it. Foster already shows a steady directing hand, but the best moments are the more whimsical ones in which she reveals the quiet exhilaration of Fred's mental leaps, as when a pool game suddenly becomes a beautiful collision of lines and forces. The DVD version shows the film in its original widescreen format and includes commentary from Foster. --Ali Davis

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