In response to a dare, Sarah strikes up a conversation with Brad one day and, to her surprise, they kiss - the start of an affair that finds them taking their children to the local swimming pool where they spend time chatting and getting to know each other. Soon, they are doing more than chatting.
Complicating all of this is the presence of a convicted sex-offender, Ronnie McGorvey (Jackie Earle Haley) who lives in the community and who is being harassed by an ex-cop who is "keeping and eye" on him. Brad gets involved with him and his football team.
All of these lives (and others) begin to entwine as the peace and serenity of their daily lives start to unravel, leading to some nasty surprises.
Kate Winslett, in particular, is excellent in her role and has deservedly been nominated for Best Actress at this year’s Oscars. Jackie Early is also good as the sex-offender, bringing a sensitivity and depth to the part that has earned him a nomination for best supporting actor.
The plot is complex but the screenplay by Todd Field and Tom Perotta makes it easy to follow and avoids many cliches that could have ruined the story.
In essence, Little Children is all about the deep desire for something better than what we presently have - a desire we all have probably experienced at some time. But how do we break out of the mundaneness and boredom of our existence when all seems so meaningless and routine? Little Children deals with a number of dangerous choices that people make in dealing with these desires - and their consequences. It’s an engaging and, at times, disturbing, journey with some surprising outcomes.
My Rating: **** (out of 5)
'The movie is one of the few films I can think of that examines the baffling combination of smugness, self-abnegation, ceremonial deference and status anxiety that characterizes middle-class Gen X parenting, and find sheer, white-knuckled terror at its core.' - Carina Chocano/Los Angeles Times
'It’s an unholy mess, simultaneously too Gothic and too sarcastic, that preaches liberation and delivers only puritanism. It’s a craftsmanlike but robotic imitation of "interesting" filmmaking, only in patches, and by accident, the real thing.' - Andrew O’Hehir/Salon.com
Strong sexuality and nudity, language and some disturbing content