Last seen kicking Will Ferrell's gangly ass in Elf, dwarf star Peter Dinklage turns leading man in this first-rate indie charmer. Sure, our reclusive trainspotter hero's pint-size is an issue, but it's never blown out of proportion by debut writer/director Tom McCarthy. Instead, we get a smart, sweet study of the trials and rewards of friendship, Dinklage's saturnine shell being gently cracked open by gobby hot-dog flogger Bobby Cannavale and Patricia Clarkson's grieving artist.
All three leads come up trumps, not only nailing the laughs in McCarthy's BAFTA-bagging script but also mining the pathos in its pauses. True, the unswaying emphasis on character means that there is a tendency for the pace and plot to get a tad neglected, a situation awkwardly remedied by a rush of contrivances in act three. But by this stage your heart's been won by a tender, treacle-free film that wrings major enjoyment from minor drama.