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Old 03-14-2008, 10:03 PM
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traboule traboule is offline
tomate de la resistance
Join Date: Apr 2005
Posts: 6,790
Little Children
(2006, Kate Winslet, Patrick Wilson, Dir. Todd Field)



Little Children is a sharp film that manages to deftly combine dark comedy and true pathos, and also offer up keen observations about society. I really marvel at how nearly every scene pulls its weight. From Sarah's (Winslet) triumph at a book club meeting to the subtle move of exclusion in a bar after a football game, the film shows a great attention to detail.

One aspect that I liked about Field's film, In the Bedroom, is true with Little Children as well and that is a sense of place. In both films, the houses, the neighborhoods all feel like real lived-in places.

Now, in Little Children, the characters are exaggerated a bit for comic effect, but somehow without putting us at too great a distance from the characters. I mean, I wasn't invested in any of the characters deeply, but I was interested in what would happen to them.

There are many themes that one can sink your teeth into with Little Children, such as the meaning of the title and how the adults can be more like children than the children - particularly I'm thinking of Patrick Wilson's character here. The theme that most struck me, however, is how nearly everyone in this suburban society dealt with troubled people by avoiding them. There is no help for those who struggle (not just the suspected pedophile, but also the cop with PTSD and others) because once you've broken ranks with the mold, the "good people" regard you as someone to be protected from.



I thought the character of Ronnie McGorvey, the man who went to jail for exposing himself and has now arrived in the neighborhood, was well-handled - not just by Jackie Earle Haley, but by the direction and story. He isn't a monster, but neither is he some innocent scapegoat. The scene where he goes on a date is spectacularly awful and sad - awful for what Haley does, and sad for the emotionally fragile woman who is his date (acted pitch perfect by Jane Adams).

The film had great casting not only in terms of acting (from powerhouse Winslet to Phyllis Somerville who plays McGorvey's elderly mother)but also in physical likeness of the parents and children. The child actors were particularly good in this film - I've seen too many films with overly precocious children so it was nice to see the restraint, but effectiveness, of the child performances here. Also, great narration and nice Thomas Newman score.

Overall, a remarkable piece of filmmaking.

9/10





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