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Thursday, February 17, 2011



Little Children is a 2006 dramatic film directed by Todd Field. It centers around the seemingly depressing lives of two people living in the suburbs. When Sarah Pierce (Kate Winslet) starts to take her daughter to the local park, she hears the other mothers talk about the stay-at-home dad who brings his son nearly every day. After taking a bet to try to get his phone number, Sarah goes to meet this man and learns his name is Brad (Patrick Wilson). Rather than just getting his number, however, the two exchange a brief kiss, much to the chagrin of the other mothers who view that as a poor example for their own children. The kiss served as a spark for the two adults who start to see each other - just as friends - in public places so that their children can play. One day, while they're at the public pool, a registered sex offender named Ronnie McGorvey (Jackie Earle Haley) comes to swim, causing quite a stir among the hundreds of patrons. Ronnie himself is constantly harassed by an ex-cop named Larry (Noah Emmerich), who happens to play on the same late-night touch football team as Brad. But I digress... Eventually Sarah and Brad take their relationship to the next level, engaging in a full-blown affair as they realize that they're not happy with their respective partners. The two carry on as best they can, and soon, a deep love arises between them, forcing them to question what they should do about the rest of their lives.

I felt as though Little Children has two separate storylines that casually cross time and again until they finally collide in the film's climactic moments. We have the story that I've laid out above - Sarah meets Brad, and they begin an affair - but we also have the story of Ronnie, a man who was imprisoned for indecently exposing himself to a child. We see his re-acclimation into society, and it's just as tumultuous as you can imagine. With Larry constantly harassing him and his mother, it's difficult for Ronnie to carry on any semblance of real life. He attempts to go on a date but finds a way to screw it up. All he has is his "mommy" (cue the Psycho references...). In the end, everything does come together, but for most of the film, I felt as though I was watching two separate films that had somehow been edited into one. And personally, I wish I would've had a little more time with Ronnie's story because it fascinated me that much more. That's not to say that the two storylines aren't good - in fact, they're very, very good. We're given a very raw sense of the emotion that each character is feeling, from our top-billed cast to the supporting players. The screenplay is very well-written and was, in fact, nominated for an Oscar as well. That should tell you a little bit, if you put any stock in the Academy's choices.

As I've said before, a well-written story can fail if the acting isn't any good, but Little Children definitely delivers. Both Kate Winslet and Jackie Earle Haley earned Oscar nominations for their roles (neither won), and both were definitely deserving of that honor. Haley is actually a little more reserved than many of us have seen him in the past few years (for those of you who may not recognize him, he played Rorschach in Watchmen and Freddy in the remake of A Nightmare on Elm Street). And I'm pretty sure everybody knows who Miss Winslet is by now, right? Patrick Wilson also does a good job, but he's not all that astounding. To be fair, I've never been over-the-moon about any of his performances, but he's solidly good in most everything he's done. We also get a stellar supporting performance from Jennifer Connelly as Brad's suspecting wife. And if Little Children did anything, it gave us all the perfect term to illustrate Miss Connelly's looks: she's a "knockout."

We're also given a rather stirring score from ten-time Oscar nominee Thomas Newman. It follows the flow and the tone of the film very well, fitting each scene and situation to a tee. I don't really have a ton to say about this, but it was good enough to warrant mention within this post.

Overall, I think that Little Children is one of those films that I'll probably have to come back to in a month or two. I feel like I missed some critical piece because I felt like the ending should have had more of an emotional impact on me. Then again, I could be completely wrong. I'll still probably revisit the movie at some later date, but as of right now, it ranks pretty highly in my entire film repertoire. I'd say it's prospects could only go up from here.

Movie Review Summary:
Grade: A-
Current All-Time Rank: Best - #180

1.5 Thumbs Up

Addition to Awards

1 comment:

  1. I've always found Patrick Wilson to be the dramatic version of Will Arnett. I like this film, however. I enjoy the voiceover from the Frontline guy.