Sunday, February 11, 2007

Movie Review: Little Children

Little Children is about a group of women who meet at a playground each day with their small children. But Sarah Pierce (Kate Winslett), a sociology graduate, wants more from her life than watching children and sharing superficial gossip with superficial women at the playground. To make matters worse, she is married to Richard (Gregg Edelman) who, she discovers, is more interested in "interacting" with porn on the ’net than spending time with her.

Brad Adamson (Patrick Wilson) is a stay-at-home Dad who has failed his law exams multiple times and takes his young son to the same playground each day. He’s married to a "knock-out" beauty, Kathy (Jennifer Connelly) who doesn’t seem to value him as much as she should.

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)

Positive Review

'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

Negative Review

'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/

Content Warning

Strong sexuality and nudity, language and some disturbing content


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