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Review: Little Children [2006]

January 12, 2009

To make a film about good people being decent is a pretty easy task.  Audiences want to watch good people winning the good fight.  Making a film about questionably moral or bad people is a much tougher nut to crack.  The characters and surrounding story have to be engaging enough to not only attract an audience, but to get the audience to care about ignoble characters.

“Little Children” is a good, interesting film about a group of questionably moral people.  Kate Winslet and Patrick Wilson play Sarah and Brad; young parents married to workaholic spouses.  Sara seems constantly exhausted by motherhood while Brad seems to genuinely enjoy fatherhood.  They meet by chance at the neighborhood park and slowly fall into an affair.

The affair is the main thread of the film and is supplemented by the subplot of a sexual offender, Ray, (Jackie Earle Haley) who is routinely harassed by a disgraced cop, Larry (Noah Emmerich).  As is the way with a lot of modern cinema, these two plots—the affair and the sexual offender—slowly interweave with a connected story.  It’s a build that comes along slowly, just a scene here or there, and then delivers in a quiet, creaking crescendo that left me with chills and a supreme level of creep factor.

“Little Children” has nothing but strong, impressive performances.  Kate Winslet and Jackie Earle Haley both received Oscar nominations for their work and certainly deserved the recognition.  Patrick Wilson and Noah Emmerich have an interesting, tense response to one another that helps lay the tension for the big finale.

Stylistically, “Little Children” is uneven.  The film is peppered with occasional narration that fills in blanks that may have played better if the narration had actually been acted out on-screen.  The narration comes off as omnipotent while the rest of the film carries a feeling of secrecy and half-truths.  There are more character aspects explained through narration than through actual character interaction.  “Little Children” is a film about characters and their individual choices.  It is also based on a book, and the narration issue could be a carry over from the original text.  It’s a strong film with an interesting, twisting story and were it not for the off-putting narration, I’d be recommending it whole-heartedly.

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One comment

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