When his alcoholic mother irresponsibly leaves the house for the weekend, eleven-year-old Lenny “borrows” his mother's handgun for some afternoon fun. Annoyed by having to watch over his younger brother Joey, Lenny plays a hideously mean prank, convincingly pretending that he's been shot dead by Joey. Convinced that he has become a murderer, Joey runs away to Coney Island, where his grandfather used to live and work as a sideshow midget. There he begins to eke out a new existence with money collected from recycling soda cans. Meanwhile, Lenny realizes his mistake and starts searching for his sibling.

A remake of the 1953 Academy Award nominee of the same name, this new Little Fugitive updates the story with more profanity and references to dangers like pedophilia, but it also captures a neo-realist spirit that has all but vanished from contemporary cinema, save in the films of David Gordon Green and a few others. Aging carnivals are most often the uninspired backdrops for horror movies, but director Joanna Lipper has done her homework on the history of the place, and makes deft use of old anecdotes accompanied by archival footage, none of which feels like an unnecessary tangent from the main tale. The addition of the boys' incarcerated father, as played by Peter Dinklage, similarly adds to the tale.

I haven't seen the 1953 film, which was apparently quite period-specific; judging by some opinions posted online, fans aren't happy that it has been remade. But even if Lipper's film doesn't measure up to its predecessor, it's still a whole lot better than most of the movies currently playing the multiplex near you.

LITTLE FUGITIVE plays Sunday at noon, at Edwards Island. Tickets and more information HERE

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