Based on Patricia Highsmith’s book of the same name, HBO-backed A Mighty Nice Man tells the eerie story of a little girl’s loss of innocence. When Charlotte and her friend Emily are approached by a “friendly” stranger named Robbie, it’s the slightly older Emily that immediately looks to get his attention. Offering to buy them both sweets, the stranger reappears later that day. However, with her cute pigtails now gone and makeup applied, Emily suddenly realises that she is not the one that Robbie is interested in – when he instead turns to the younger and much more naïve Charlie.
Shot in black and white, the light that seeps through the trees and catches the dust in the air creates a dreamlike, ethereal atmosphere, which alongside the sweeping, eerie soundtrack is hard to shake off. Dusty, still air surrounds Charlie’s home and encases her innocent childhood, which is made up of playing “storekeeper” with Emily and looking after her baby brother. When she ventures outside the cocoon, her childhood has been prematurely lost.
It may be a difficult subject to watch unfold before you, but director Jonathan Dee handles it delicately and with sublime ease. Nothing is overstated; the child actors are wonderful and Billy Magnussen (Bridge of Spies) manages to lure you in and terrify you at the same time. While it may be set in years gone by, A Mighty Nice Man undoubtedly carries warnings even more relevant in the modern day. With a running time of 11 minutes, it’s impressive to see just how much Dee manages to achieve in such a short space of time.
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CAST: Jacqueline Baum, Billy Magnussen, Kristen Connolly, Kylie McVey
DIRECTOR: Jonathan Dee
WRITERS: Jonathan Dee (screenplay); Patricia Highsmith (book)
SYNOPSIS: Patricia Highsmith’s haunting story of a day in a young girl’s life when a kind stranger comes to town.