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Little Man Tate
IMDB Rating: 6.6/10 from PG votes
Release: 01 Nov 1991 /

Little Man Tate

Genre: Drama
Director: Jodie Foster,
Stars: , , ,
Synopsis: Dede is a sole parent trying to bring up her son Fred. When it is discovered that Fred is a genius, she is determined to ensure that Fred has all the opportunities that he needs, and that ...

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Critic Reviews


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.

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