Little Children

2006 drama

Rating: 15/20

Plot: Sarah and Richard are in an unhappy marriage. Brad and Kathy are in their own unhappy marriage. Sarah is double-dog-dared by the other moms (creepy moms) at the park to get Brad's phone number. She does and in subsequent weeks, the two get closer and closer. Finally, on a rainy afternoon following the local pedophile's visit to the public pool, they decide to do the nasty. They do it, several times, sometimes while appliances are watching. Ex-cop Larry (yet another quality Larry in popular culture) has a personal vendetta with the local pedophile and leads a campaign to drive him out of town.

This was a really difficult movie to watch with a myriad of difficult and/or creepy scenes. I actually felt a little uncomfortable watching the dynamics between these characters. That was probably the point, so I guess director Todd Field was very successful. For whatever reason, by the way, I would have guessed that this was directed by a woman, but I've never known any women named Todd. The tone's consistently pessimistic, and there's not really a good guy in sight. The relationships between the sets of spouses are troubling. Brad and Sarah's adulterous relationship always seems a bit off (and is creepy with their kids always in close proximity), more cheap thrills or convenience territory than anything resembling love. Everything the ex-cop does is disturbing. And creepy pedophiles are really no good. This movie seems to be exploring the hypocrisy of suburbia and white middle class folk, and like a lot of contemporary movies that this sort of reminded me of that I didn't really like as much (Crash), it succeeds in making you point your finger at the characters and their dubious actions while simultaneously thinking about the shape of your own soul. And you get to see Kate Winslet naked again! I liked Jackie Earle Haley in his comeback role as the creepy pedophile although it's one of those characters that almost seems too easy. 1) Be thin. 2) Be balding. 3) Move awkwardly. 4) Win critical acclaim! That scene at the pool was especially chilling, as was a shocking finale, even though I saw it coming from a mile away with the (repeated?) mention of a key word early on. Strangely, a scene in which Winslet's character shows up surprisingly at one of Brad's late-night football games creeped me out even more though. Perhaps I'm missing something, but a lot of the dialogue and interactions with the characters didn't feel all that realistic, and I was left unfulfilled by the ending. Still, this troubling drama does a great job at holding a cracked mirror up to a fractured society. And, in case I didn't mention it, Kate Winslet's naked again.

I realize I used some variation of "creepy" in this a lot, but I'm not sure it can be overused in describing a movie like this. Cory recommended it. He's not really all that creepy.


l@rstonovich said...

I think I'd rate this a 17, tho it looks like I'd rated it an 18. A film with no protagonists, and man when the creep went supercreep on the date it was actually a tad unexpected and creepy as hell. And Kate Winslet loves to get nudie.

cory said...

Thanks. Appreciate it.

I am amazed that Winslet and Ewan "I love to show off my penis" McGregor have never done a movie together. This is a difficult film to watch. I liked the analysis. Characters, through boredom, desire, or mental illness engage in a lot of horrible behavior. For me, Haley's performance is amazing, and I would recommend this movie for the pool scene alone. Chilling is a good word for the scene, and it is one of the most memorable I have seen. Maybe Winslet learns something at the end (after she does one of the dumbest things in movie history by approaching a disturbed pedophile at night in a park, WITH HER KID!). The mood, acting, and sadness, and darkness of "Little Children" make it a powerful and very disturbing film. A 17.

Shane said...

Pool scene, the end of Supercreep's date...those are obvious ones. But seriously, were either of you equally creeped out when Winslet started jumping up and down and saying, "Yah! Yah!" after Brad scored the winning touchdown?

Shane said...

Oh, one more thing: I HATED the narration, and that was what kept this in the "good" range instead of the "very good" or "great" range. What did you guys think of the narrator?

l@rstonovich said...

I don't remember the narration but I'm sure it bugged me, it usually does, nor do I remember the Yah Yah's, I saw this shortly after it came out so that was a while ago.

cory said...

I'll need to see it again. I don't remember narrators or bouncy Winslets bothering me.