Jodie Foster makes an appealing, if modest, directorial debut with Little Man Tate. Scott Frank (Dead Again) penned this nicely observed tale of a year in the life of a seven-year-old genius. Most of the film's emotional power lies in the open, alert, eager-to-please face of Hann-Byrd, making his acting debut. Filled with small, telling moments rather than big events, film never really gets inside Fred's head, but it neatly sketches the external aspects of his predicament. "Little Man Tate" is the kind of movie you enjoy watching; it's about interesting people finding out about themselves. As the boy's devoted working-class mother, Foster credibly exudes a mother-lion protectiveness, but she seems a bit too intelligent to play someone so far removed from Fred's mental sphere. Wiest, on the other hand, is near-perfect as the well-meaning mentor who has trouble responding to Fred just as a child rather than a child prodigy. A triumphant debut as a film director for Jodie Foster in a captivating tale about a pint-sized genius.
VERDICT: "High-Quality Stuff" - [Positive Reaction] This is a rating to a movie I view as very entertaining and well made, and definitely worth paying the full price at a theatre to see or own on DVD. It is not perfect, but it is definitely excellent. (Films that are rated 3.5 or 4 stars)