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Through the eyes of a exceptionally gifted child of seven, 'Little Man
Tate' delivers a riveting insight of the loneliness, maturity,
isolation and brilliance of what it is to be highly prodigious yet very
young and how imperative it is to achieve a balance when educating and
raising such children.
Fred (Adam Hann-Byrd) is a very special little boy. He is able to play
complicated musical pieces, pen deep and meaningful poems, calculate
complex mathematical problems at an age when his classmates are still
learning to tie their shoes and mastering their alphabet. He's a child
old before his time, capable of thoughts far beyond the average adult's
understanding, but at the core of it all, he is still just a
seven-year-old who wants to fit in at school and have friends. His
mother Dede, played by Jodie Foster, determines the best way to raise
her beloved son is to treat him like any other child to the extent that
she never really acknowledges his gifts, whereas Jane Grierson (Dianne
Wiest) is on the other end of the scale as a psychologist whose
speciality is gifted children. Jane takes an interest in Fred,
believing his intelligence must be nurtured even if it means plonking a
tot of seven into a university full of young adults.
Jodie Foster and Dianne Wiest deliver strong, solid performances as two
women who both love this child and just want what is best for him, even
if their approaches are very different. However, it is Adam Hann-Byrd
who steals the show as the lead character of Fred. He depicts the
brilliance of the character as well as his awkwardness in dealing with
both 'normal' contemporaries and fellow gifted children. He is
wonderful in showing how Fred is just a kid who wants to be liked, and
how he desperately needs the adults around him to provide him a balance
between being treated like the seven-year-old he is while allowing his
towering intellect to thrive.
This film takes us into the heart of what it is to be a child prodigy
and how it can be both a gift and a curse. We see Fred surpassing his
adult classmates in his university course yet he struggles to interact
with peers his own age who are of average intelligence. Through him, it
is easy to see that being perceived as 'normal' can be the greatest
gift of all. It also highlights the abysmal state of the state
education system in teaching such children.
I really recommend this film as it delivers this fascinating story in a
manner that is bittersweet, touching and, at times, humorous. The
characters are all interesting and likable and you can't help but feel
for Fred's joys and woes.
Tags for Little Man Tate Full Movie
, Dianne Wiest
, Harry Connick Jr.
, Jodie Foster
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