Little Children

Dan Movie Reviews

Tonight I watched the screener DVD for Little Children. This film by Todd Field, based on the novel by Tom Perrotta, focuses on a group of young families, whose lives are all miserable in differing ways. Sarah Pierce (Kate Winslet) has a young girl, who she takes to the playground reguarly. There, she observes as the other mothers gossip about the latest goings on in their community. On a bet, she goes up to talk with Brad Adamson (Patrick Wilson), a stay-at-home dad who the other ladies oogle and refer to as the “Prom King”. To give them something to talk about, Sarah and Brad share a spontaneous kiss. As their friendship grows over the summer, and they take their kids to the pool, etc., the unspoken sexual tension between them begins to escalate. Meanwhile, Sarah’s husband is infatuated with an online sex website, and Brad’s wife (Jennifer Connelly) is too coddling of their son to allow a normal sex life between her and Brad. Obviously, one can see where this is headed. Meanwhile, a subplot involving a sex offender who has recently returned from jail (Jackie Earle Haley) and his dealings with overeager ex-cop Larry Hedges (Noah Emmerich) keeps interacting with the main characters on occasion, but ultimately feels like a separate storyline.

By the time the movie ended, I really didn’t know what to think of it all. Sure, it’s a well done film, and any movie that allows us to see Kate in all of her glory gets brownie points, but there was such a melancholy tone to the film, a dourness that was splashed with hopelessness, that I couldn’t really get into any of the characters. All of them were morally bankrupt in one form or another, so you just feel like a peeping tom, looking into the sad lives of miserable suburbanites.

Thomas Newman’s score is effectively low key, but I couldn’t tell you what it was like at all. The cinematography was solid, as was the acting and dialogue. I just couldn’t get into the story, so the film didn’t do much for me. I have too much other stuff to watch that I can’t really spend more time on it than I’ve already done. Tick tock!