Top critical review
Nicely done story with poor sound quality
on 2 September 2015
‘Little Man Tate’ is about a small boy called Fred (Adam Hann-Byrd) who is highly gifted in several areas. He lives with his single mother Dede (Jodie Foster) and they’re very close; however he is bored in school and struggles to make friends. His mother wants him to be an ordinary little boy; but she eventually allows him to take some tests and attend some enrichment courses. The psychologist Jane (Dianne Wiest) becomes almost another mother figure to him.
Fred is affectionate capable of pretending to do things wrong so as not to stand out; the acting seemed a bit weak at times, for such an important character, but on the whole he's believable. Unfortunately some of his teachers (and, indeed, the psychologist Jane) are portrayed as caricatures, condescending to their charges and with no real connection to them at all. In places this gave a light-hearted touch to what could have been quite a heavy story; in others it was rather irritating.
Jodie Foster directs the film as well as playing Fred’s mother, and she does so sensitively and with a good pace. Overall, we loved the story with the different viewpoints and the struggles to help a child who is ‘different’. It was also interesting to see the tensions between those who value academic excellence above all else, and those who don’t, although a pity that none of the 'academics' were portrayed as realistic or even particularly likeable.
However, the soundtrack on the DVD was very badly mixed. The music was too intrusive, often drowning out the speech entirely. I struggled with the accents in any case, but Fred and Dede spoke very quietly. About half way through we had to switch on the subtitles in order to catch what was going on. I would have given this four stars if the sound quality had been better.