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

Murder on the Orient Express Movie Review

Murder on the Orient Express Movie Review

The latest adaptation of Agatha Christie's 83-year-old classic whodunit, this lavish, star-studded film is old-style...

Paddington 2 Movie Review

Paddington 2 Movie Review

The first Paddington movie in 2014 is already such a beloved classic that it's hard...

A Bad Moms Christmas Movie Review

A Bad Moms Christmas Movie Review

Everyone's back from last year's undemanding adult comedy, plus some starry new cast members, for...

Brawl in Cell Block 99 Movie Review

Brawl in Cell Block 99 Movie Review

Filmmaker S. Craig Zahler brought a blast of offbeat creativity to the Western genre two...

The Death of Stalin Movie Review

The Death of Stalin Movie Review

Fans of the film In the Loop and the TV series Veep will definitely not...

Call Me By Your Name Movie Review

Call Me By Your Name Movie Review

Set in northern Italy in the summer of 1983, this internationally flavoured drama is a...

Thor: Ragnarok Movie Review

Thor: Ragnarok Movie Review

The most riotously enjoyable Marvel movie yet, this action epic benefits hugely from the decision...

Advertisement
Breathe Movie Review

Breathe Movie Review

While this biopic has the standard sumptuous production values of a British period drama, it's...

The Snowman Movie Review

The Snowman Movie Review

With a cast and crew packed with A-list talent, this film seems like it should...

The Party Movie Review

The Party Movie Review

Comedies don't get much darker than this pitch-black British movie, written and directed by Sally...

The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected) Movie Review

The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected) Movie Review

Noah Baumbach (Frances Ha) is on his way to becoming the new Woody Allen, which...

6 Below Movie Review

6 Below Movie Review

Based on an astonishing true survival story, this film is subtitled "Miracle on the Mountain",...

Mother Movie Review

Mother Movie Review

Darren Aronofsky doesn't make fluffy movies, and has only had one genuine misfire (2014's Noah)....

Blade Runner 2049 Movie Review

Blade Runner 2049 Movie Review

It's been 35 years since Ridley Scott's 1982 sci-fi classic, which was set in 2019....

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.