Little Children

"Very Good"

Little Children Review


Five years after rethinking and remapping the idea of the dramatic thriller in the now-classic In the Bedroom, Todd Field finally swings back into the director's chair with an adaptation of Tom Perrotta's Little Children after a sadly unsuccessful attempt to film an adaptation of Richard Yates' Revolutionary Road. Any filmmaker would reconsider their style after five years, and Field is no different: Little Children has little or nothing to do with In the Bedroom in mood, tone or story.

In a small Northeastern community, Brad Adamson (Patrick Wilson) secretly has a huge cult following. A gaggle of housewives, including obvious peculiarity Sarah (the consistently outstanding Kate Winslet), adore Brad from afar as he takes his son to the playground (he's a stay-at-home dad) each day, whispering his nickname between them: "The Prom King." After a dare that leads to a small kiss, Sarah and Brad start spending time together at the town pool with their kids. Rumors fly and the neighborhood becomes a cauldron of suspicion as the town learns that a reformed pedophile named Ronnie (Jackie Earle Haley) has just moved back to the neighborhood.

Field sees social disturbances as a sort of miasma, collecting over the trees of the placid neighborhood and slowly creeping into bloodstreams. Brad's wife (Jennifer Connelly, doing what she can with the film's most lazily written part) brings home the bacon in the family, causing seizures of resentment from Brad who slowly feels like he deserves to act the way he does. However, Field never lets us get a grip on his film (that's a compliment) and it offers a strange way into understanding his bruised characters. Ronnie, played to eerie perfection by Haley, seems to understand his disease and act more normal than any other character, until an earth-shattering scene after a forced date with a woman (an uncredited, delicate Jane Adams). The force of the film is that it never stops springing surprises and it constantly crafts scenes like these that cause eyes to widen.

Brad and Sarah's relationship, not anything specifically new to current cinema, lies at the heart of Little Children. But the "little children" that run around in the parks and the pool are not the children that one must worry about. Ronnie is a danger, sure, but he has no weight against a neighborhood that has become a hub of paranoia and fear. Sarah and Brad seem to revert to their childhood states of believing life and love to be mere simple things to believe in without consideration, and therefore, they ignore what their homes have become. Their opposite is Larry (the extraordinary Noah Emmerich), an ex-cop whose life has silently slid off the map to the point where all he can do is cultivate and spread the fear of the neighborhood. Political allegories abound, the mid-life-crises-cum-social-dystopia that Field creates seems somewhat revitalized in the films first three quarters.

Inexplicably, Field dulls his film with a shrewdly complacent ending. In any other film, somewhat placid endings for the main characters would be fine, but not for a film that defies expectations and turns up surprises almost as much as its predecessor. It comes off as simply coming to a halt, running on fumes. In the long run, this doesn't negate the film's stronger, immensely stinging moments (the scene with Ronnie at the pool has a sly, Hitchcock scent to it). Little Children may not be the great follow-up we wanted after In the Bedroom, but it still verifies that the skill he showed there is no fluke. You still leave the film with a strange sense of discontent that is hard to shake off, but I doubt it will last another five years.

Reviewed as part of the 2006 New York Film Festival.

What kind of stroller do you like?



Little Children

Facts and Figures

Run time: 136 mins

In Theaters: Friday 3rd November 2006

Box Office USA: $5.3M

Budget: $26M

Distributed by: New Line Cinema

Production compaines: New Line Cinema, Standard Film Company, Bona Fide Productions

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 3.5 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 80%
Fresh: 126 Rotten: 32

IMDB: 7.6 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Producer: Rick Bieber, Scott Disharoon, Sherri Saito, Jayne A. Larson

Starring: as Sarah Pierce, as Brad Adamson, as Kathy Adamson, Gregg Edelman as Richard Pierce, Sadie Goldstein as Lucy Pierce, as Aaron Adamson, as Larry Hedges, as Ronnie J. McGorvey, Phyllis Somerville as May McGorvey, as Jean, Mary B. McCann as Mary Ann, as Theresa, as Cheryl, Sarah G. Buxton as Slutty Kay, Chadwick Brown as Tony Correnti, Adam Mucci as Richie Murphy, Chance Kelly as Pete Olafson, Walker Ryan as "G", Erica Berg as Richard's Secretary, Catherine Wolf as Marjorie, as Bullhorn Bob, as Sheila, Chance Kelly as Pete Olaffson

Also starring:

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

Julieta Movie Review

Julieta Movie Review

Iconic Spanish filmmaker Pedro Almodovar is back with another powerfully complex female-centred drama, along the...

Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping Movie Review

Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping Movie Review

An astute satire of the pop music business, this raucous mock-documentary is consistently hilarious from...

War Dogs Movie Review

War Dogs Movie Review

Based on a rather astounding true story, this comedy-drama centres on two stoners who landed...

Swallows and Amazons Movie Review

Swallows and Amazons Movie Review

After a number of films, TV series and stage adaptations, Arthur Ransome's beloved 1930 novel...

David Brent: Life on the Road Movie Review

David Brent: Life on the Road Movie Review

The original BBC sitcom The Office ran for 14 episodes from 2001 to 2003, and...

The Childhood of a Leader Movie Review

The Childhood of a Leader Movie Review

Bold and intelligent, this dark drama is a challenging portrait of the making of an...

Pete's Dragon Movie Review

Pete's Dragon Movie Review

This hugely enjoyable adventure is a loose remake of the 1977 Disney hit that blended...

Advertisement
The Shallows Movie Review

The Shallows Movie Review

With a simple premise and plenty of visual style, Spanish filmmaker Jaume Collet-Serra (Unknown) takes...

Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates Movie Review

Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates Movie Review

Watching this gross-out comedy, it's clear that the gifted cast and crew had a great...

Nerve Movie Review

Nerve Movie Review

With a premise that feels almost eerily current, this stylish thriller revolves around a phone...

The Carer Movie Review

The Carer Movie Review

Brian Cox gets the role of a lifetime in this warm comedy about living life...

Born to Be Blue Movie Review

Born to Be Blue Movie Review

Writer-director Robert Budreau takes a stylised approach to this biopic of the legendary jazz artist...

Jason Bourne Movie Review

Jason Bourne Movie Review

It's been nine years since Matt Damon and Paul Greengrass collaborated on The Bourne Ultimatum,...

The Commune [Kollektivet] Movie Review

The Commune [Kollektivet] Movie Review

Veteran Danish filmmaker Thomas Vinterberg (Festen, The Hunt) returns to a smaller homegrown story after...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.