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  • A_Roode8 November 2006
    I was walking home the other evening having just watched this at the theatre. Two guys were ahead of me on the street and had just seen it as well. Not intending to listen in on their conversation ... I did anyway, *LOL*. One asked his friend what he thought about the movie and the second took a moment to think about it. His answer? "Twisted man, too twisted!" Thoreau wrote in Walden that "the mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation." In 'Little Children,' we see that quiet desperation played out to full effect by desperate housewives, ex-cons and damaged loners. A deep study of loneliness, 'Little Children' is morally ambiguous and doesn't judge. It uses humour, it uses dread, and it is a film that is at times quirky, intelligent and ultimately fascinating.

    I liked a lot of things about this movie and in the week since I saw it, I've grown to like it more. Thematically it should have been a terrible downer: a collection of people who've all settled into what seems like the beginning of the end. They've married, started having kids and every single one of them wakes up in the morning with dread. "Is this all that is left?" They have become, or more importantly, believe that they have become completely purposeless in the next of a continuing doldrum of empty days. Eternity awaits and eternity is purposeless existential hell.

    What is remarkable about a film whose subject should be so bleak, is the warmth and humour within it. Characters in 'Little Children' reject the lack of purpose, the unhappiness and try to re-inject a passion for life that they once had. At its most extreme, the quest for passion and purpose is lead by Noah Emmerich -- certainly most of the humour comes from his character. Winslet, Wilson and Emmerich are all flawed (who isn't?) but sympathetic. And then there is Jackie Earle Haley.

    How difficult must it have been to play a convicted sex offender who is both repellent and *gasp* sympathetic? If you're Jackie Earle Haley and you are stealing a film away from bigger stars and you've got a great part, then apparently it isn't very hard at all. Creepy, potentially dangerous but also fairly benign and pitiable, Haley gives a much over-looked performance in what is quickly becoming a much over-looked film. He has given what I think is one of the best performances this year, and what is certainly the best performance of his entire career.

    'Little Children' is "twisted man, too twisted" but it is also very good and very compelling. Well worth the risk and extremely well paced. It was only after the film had ended that I noticed how long the film was. Completely engrossing, I recommend it highly.
  • axlgarland17 February 2007
    Warning: Spoilers
    Bedrooms still play an important part in Todd Field universe but this time there is an outing, intellectual and emotional, that overwhelms in the apparent patina of familiarity. "Little Children" sizzles with an uncomfortable sense of impending doom. Kate Winslet, through her later day Madame Bovary, gives us a character that is recognisable and never seen before at the same time. Powerfully honest to the point of self destruction and yet, her feelings seem so clear and pure, so innocent. Kate Winslet in a superlative performance, invites us to believe that a human being can inhabit that contradiction without seem absurd. Patrick Wilson's courage without brains or vice versa is an uncomfortable pleasure to watch. Jennifer Connelly has one of the most chilling domestic moments I've seen in a long time: a moment of realisation at a dinner table. Contradictions, perhaps, are at the centre of this wonderfully conceived universe, Weary of domestic bliss. compassion for a child molester. Jack Earle Haley's psycho is not played for sympathy - he is a horrible character. He and his mother, the great Phyllis Somerville - are a realistic version of a Hitchcockian coupling. Adult entertainment, yes entertainment too, of the first order.
  • Out of all the "Oscar Bait" films I've seen this year, this film beats them all. Little Children is an unbelievable masterpiece about what it means to grow up. This idea is brilliantly portrayed through characters - while categorized as "adults" - have yet to outgrow certain adolescent stages.

    Brad is a man who never got the chance to experience the spotlight in his youth, and now he desperately craves attention, acknowledgment, or admiration in any form.

    Sarah is a woman who never learned how to grow past her own selfishness. She is angry at her daughter for needing attention when all Sarah wants is some time to herself.

    Larry is a man who still harbors bully-like tendencies, and desperately just wants to fit in and be one of the guys. This is seen through his treatment of Ronnie - the pedophile who was just released from prison and returned to the neighborhood.

    Ronnie is the dangerous man. The man who cannot connect with people his own age and seeks sexual gratification with children or with people who - like him - cannot fit into the adult world.

    This isn't an action moving - it's an interaction movie. The scenes between characters have you nailed to your seat and deeply invested. The characters interact within their small community, and their actions with each other build into a climatic explosion that forces them all to face truths about themselves, and - finally - accept their responsibilities as mothers, husbands, fathers, and humans. This accepting is what separates little children from adults, immature from mature.

    The tale is moving, sad, hilarious, dark, breathtaking, thought-provoking and many other creative adjectives. It forces you to reevaluate your idea of yourself and your thoughts on others. It forces you to see people you would normally loath and dismiss in a differently light. This a movie you will come out of changed. If you only see one film a higher, I cannot recommend this one more.
  • "You couldn't change the past," the narrator of Little Children tells us at the movie's close, "but the future could be a different story." The lives of the men and women who live in the very paragon of bland suburbia appear to be crunchy (and even somewhat unforgiving) on the outside, but inside they break, well, just like a little girl. A veritable sea of emotions, from love, despair, neglect, and hate churns below their pristine, everything-in-its-place veneers.

    The placidity of this particular neighborhood is jolted by two things: the arrival of a sex offender (Jackie Earle Haley) and the emergence of a relationship between married-but-not-to-each-other Sarah and Brad; both events, directly and obliquely, are remarked upon by the nattering nabobs of middle-class conservatism in the town, particularly the rather particular hausfraus and soccer moms.

    Sarah Pierce (Winslet) is a distant mother and wife; when she and her daughter Lucy visit the neighborhood playground, she sits away from the other mothers. As an indirect result, Lucy doesn't play with the other boys and girls on the see-saws or merry-go-round - she just plays quietly. Meanwhile, as the empty-headed women babble to each other (but not Sarah), a newcomer enters their midst - a stay-at-home father, Brad, whom they mockingly call (behind his back, of course) "The Prom King." Sarah's marriage seems empty and devoid of purpose. Brad, for his part, is married to a breadwinner - his wife Karen (Jennifer Connelly) is a documentary filmmaker who's completely absorbed with her work. Like Sarah, Brad is a little emotionally distant from his wife and their son, Aaron, so it's no wonder he and Sarah become constant companions throughout the long, hot suburban summer, spending their days either at the park or at the public pool.

    The other main story thread involves the community's reaction to the presence of Ronnie McGorvey, convicted as a sex offender for flashing a young boy. Soon, there are fliers on telephone poles, and an angry outrage group is formed, led by ex-policeman Larry (Noah Emmerich), who seems to be more upset with Ronnie's existence than anyone else in the town.

    At its core, the movie is about repression and "settling" - staying with someone just because they provide you comfort but no love is no reason at all, the film explains. Committing adultery just might be an okay act, even with children involved, as long as it means a better life for the principals. Brad and Sarah transform from nodding acquaintances to good friends who take care of their kids together (Aaron and Lucy even grow to become friends, although up to that point they'd both been loners.) When the opportunity arises for them to become more, though, they take it - an act that's not easy to conceal from the prying eyes of the neighbors, let alone their respective spouses and certainly not their children. How long, if at all, can they possibly hope to maintain the charade that they're just friends? Perhaps the thought that their own, current marriages are charades in their own right gives Sarah and Brad reason to believe they can perpetuate the sham against their spouses.

    Meanwhile, Ronnie attempt to cope with living as a sex offender. He lives with his doting mom, who believes there is good in everyone; she realizes that what Ronnie did was wrong, but that it was an accident, and she tries in vain to protect him from the rest of the community, which is by and large out to lynch him. But the brilliant caveat here is that Ronnie is by no means a victim - not only did he do what he was accused of (although he shows remorse and a lot of self-hate), but he shows that he's capable of more of the same.

    In fact, that's the genius of Todd Field's film - not only are people flawed, but they're believably flawed. In Little Children, people make decisions for selfish reasons, and there's no wondrous epiphany that somehow saves the soul and good standing of the poor decision maker - people live with what they've done, or they don't make the decision in the first place.

    Winslet and Haley were nominated for their work here; the first-ever nomination for Haley, who was probably best known as Kelly Leak in the Bad News Bears films. He's eerie and creepy and utterly human as Ronnie McGorvey. You never really feel sympathy for the deviant, but you might feel a twinge of unease. For Winslet, this was the fifth nomination for the beauteous Briton, and it's astounding that she hasn't yet won. Then again, she's only 31 years old! Little Children is a stark, seamless, unsettling story that grabs a hold of your psyche and twists it almost to the breaking point, relying on strong performances by Winslet, Haley, Wilson, and Emmerich as well as a tortuous plot that provides quite a jaded look at the tranquility of suburban life.
  • In the suburbs, the boredom Sarah Pierce (Kate Winslet) lives a dull marriage without love with her selfish husband Richard Pierce (Gregg Edelman), who is successful in his career but with awful sexual habits. She spends the mornings with her daughter Lucy (Sadie Goldstein) in the playground observing the behavior of the suburban mothers with their children. When Sarah sees the frisson caused by the handsome "househusband" Brad Adamson (Patrick Wilson) in the other women, she decides to talk to him. Brad tells her that he has failed twice in the Bar exams for lawyer and he is financially supported by his wife Kathy (Jennifer Connelly), who is a documentary filmmaker. He omits that Kathy is a woman that gives all her attention to their son Aaron (Ty Simpkins), refusing to have sex with him. Sarah feels trapped in her unhappy life and has an affair with Brad, who is the opposite of Richard, in the afternoons. Meanwhile, the pervert Ronnie J. McGorvey (Jackie Earle Haley), who was in prison for indecent exposure, returns to his mother's house and feels the prejudice of his community against his presence, especially from the retired policeman Larry Hedges (Noah Emmerich) that is trying to force Ronnie to move away from their neighborhood.

    "Little Children" is an extremely well-acted movie that uses a modern adaptation of Madame Bovary to the present days in the American suburbs. The boredom condition of Emma Bovary and Sarah Pierce are very similar, both fell trapped in an unhappy marriage, and have love affairs to escape from their boredom. This movie really deserved the nomination to the Oscar in the categories of Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role, with Jackie Earle Haley having a top-notch performance in the role of a deranged sick man; Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role to the stunning Kate Winslet, one my favorite and best actress ever – my only remark is that, at least for my eyes and taste, she is a charming and beautiful woman, and apparently Sarah Pierce is a plain woman; and Best Writing, Adapted Screenplay, to Todd Field and Tom Perrotta that were able to perfectly develop a complex story with entwined lives of many characters in an adequate pace and eroticism. In the end, "Little Children" is one of those unforgettable and highly recommended movies. My vote is eight.

    Title (Brazil): "Pecados Íntimos" ("Intimate Sins")
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Can there be such a thing as a feel-good movie about marital infidelity and suburban ennui? If so, then I believe this haunting, powerful and superb new movie from Todd Field may be it.

    A feel-good movie was not in the least what I was expecting from this, based on the trailers and on Field's prior film, the astringent and depressing "In the Bedroom." And it's not like I left the theatre feeling the need to break into song. But unlike other films about the stultifying atmosphere of suburban America, and the prisons so many people seem to make out of their domestic worlds, "Little Children" ends with a distinct feeling of hope and optimism. In other domestic dramas, the characters are frequently unlikable, and they appear to drift through their worlds allowing things to happen to them without taking any responsibility for themselves. In "Little Children," Field does not present us with a handful of caustic stereotypes, but rather with a cast of actors who create warm but flawed human beings. These characters don't drift through life. They have things they care about, and they want and feel that they deserve some of the small happinesses that all human beings have a right to. But they also screw up, make bad decisions, act irrationally. What saves them, and the movie, is that in the end they all wake up, realize they're chasing dreams, and decide to make something of the lives they have rather than the lives they think they want.

    I thought this was a hopeful message, and one that carries with it a tremendous impact in this post-9/11 culture, when the safety nets on which we've built our existences have been ripped out from under us and we're left trying to make sense of a scary world. This film, in its closing moments, states outright that there's no time like now to begin taking control of our own worlds and making of them what we want. The best weapon we can wield against an uncertain future are our children, who can learn from our mistakes and make something new rather than simply repeat an endless cycle.

    As for the acting.....Kate Winslet shines as Sarah, the suburban mom who doesn't fit in and embarks upon a reckless affair to fill a void in her days. Her performance is one of those small triumphs of acting, in which Winslet builds a living, breathing human being from the ground up through a series of subtle and thoughtful choices. Patrick Wilson, such a limp noodle in the screen version of "The Phantom of the Opera," is pitch perfect as Brad, the stud who attracts Sarah's eye. And the other actors take full advantage of their smaller roles: Jennifer Connelly as Brad's loving but distracted wife; Jackie Earle Haley as the film's most tragic figure, Noah Emmerich as an ex-cop who takes homeland security into his own hands; and Phyllis Somerville, who has a couple of beautifully heart-breaking moments as the mom of an outcast.

    The screenplay is thematically elaborate. There's hardly an element of one character's storyline that doesn't find a parallel in the storyline of another. The theme of parenting is of course central, but beyond simply focusing on the responsibilities parents owe their children, the film goes deeper and examines how parents' behavior affects their children and the extent to which parents can change the world for good or bad through what they hand down to the children who inherit it.

    A bracing, fantastic film.

    Grade: A+
  • Director Todd Field satirizes western society and exposes our fundamental flaw as a society. We are a country of self-righteous hypocrites who band together to crush evil wherever it may be found but overlook our own weaknesses.

    The story on one level is exceedingly banal: it shifts from scene to scene exposing the triviality of day to day life. Yet there is that haunting sound of an approaching train. Are we witnessing a train wreck? The brilliant use of a narrator lulls us into the belief that this is just a children's story and nothing bad will happen. Yet our eyes are glued to the screen as we await the crash.

    Jackie Earle Haley as Ronnie exposes everything that is wrong with our modern world and everything that is right about character acting. He gives a stand out performance definitely worthy of Oscar consideration. The character represents an unknown evil in our community, one that must be sought out and destroyed. His character at times is sympathetic, even lovable and other other times hideous and menacing.

    But who is more detestable? Is it Ronnie or is it those infinitely boring (but beautiful) adulterers, Sarah (Kate Winslet) or Brad (Patrick Wilson)? Is it up to us to judge? If we do, are we not being like the suburban community that is the metaphor for our society? In that way, Director Todd Fields includes us in the movie whether we know it or not. This is a wonderful (train) ride that will keep us talking for days. It is one of this year's great movies.
  • indianfroggie28 October 2006
    Just remarkable, because it goes in split second from laughter to deep tragic shock without affecting the credibility of the story, back and forth.

    Every actor has been brilliantly directed and it is a gallery of portrays, not just two actors leading the story. I found myself so affected by it because of the sheer unpredictable storyline going to predictable then going back to the unknown.

    You will watch how people whirl themselves into their own actions and then try to find a way out of these consequences. Then they free themselves at times, to trap themselves next. Absolutely brilliant, with an array of emotions succeeding to one another.

    Visually sumptuous. People stayed in the theater and talked about it.

    Looking back, you feel afterward how much love and dedication from director, crew and actors went into it. Just a stunning, beautiful movie.
  • Relationship drama is on the menu and Todd Field is the waiter, with expert skill and neat presentation. 'Little Children' zooms in on suburbia, navigating the world of desperate housewives and husbands. The dish proves a pleasant diversion, with crisp performances and a tasty centre.

    So tasty, in fact, that Little Children is one of the most interesting films of recent years. It is far from the greatest, and is not devoid of faults, but a genuine evocation of interest should be attributed to Field's story. Every character unflinchingly demands our attention. We want to know more about precisely everyone in the community. In the front row for fascination sits Ronnie, the resident child molestor, who pends between likable and freak. He is the overriding nominator for 'Little Children' – and his presence greatly upsets the parents.

    Yet most salience is given to Kate Winslet and Patrick Wilson as Sarah and Pierce – two lonely, bored and desperate housespouses who, in the midst of having nothing to do, innocently begin an extramarital affair with each other. Through calm narration, the film introduces Sarah as an anthropologist and remarks how she is different from the contingent of housemoms. However it becomes apparent that the director is the anthropologist and not Sarah. Indeed Field studies human relationships accordingly, interweaving loneliness, desperation, jealousy, lust and betrayal. Sarah, in fact, loses her 'objective' stance and melts in with the rest as she indulges in her passion with Brad.

    It needs to be said that 'Little Children' often tips over into comedy and it is this refreshing edge that bumps it up to 8/10 on my scale. It treats serious subjects, such as pedophilia, infidelity and loneliness – but it does so with the spark in the eye. A consistent cloud of laughter seemed to hover in the air of my theatre at the Stockholm Film Festival and Kate Winslet was undoubtedly the catalyst. She gives a fine performance with excellent emotional transparency, layered skill and above all with an inherent funny bone that translates to a goofy woman. The humour is surprisingly in-tune even with the other characters with all their quirks and afflictions, such as child-molestation and online pornography.

    Toward the end, 'Little Children' patiently crafts a sense of impending doom that deserves much credit. Nevertheless, the ending isn't the best imaginable. The film could benefit from being slightly shorter. Lastly the use of cute kids as tearjerkers is a disappointing cheap-shot used a little too often, and seems mostly a tiresome American phenomenon. Yet as a whole entity Little Children is a very interesting film that makes the best possible use of characters, relationships and suburban drama. Throw in a few exceptionally neat steadicam shots – Scorsese-style – and the experience is complete.

    8 out of 10
  • ClaytonDavis9 October 2006
    The acclaimed director of "In the Bedroom" brings a brand new type of adulterous love tale. Todd Field co-adapts Tom Perrotta's novel and never leaves the source material unattended. The film is multi-layered with subtle undertones and illustrious questions wrapped into a parable of two people Brad Adamson (Patrick Wilson) and Sarah Pierce, (Kate Winslet) individuals that feel so disenchanted with existence that they find "comfort" in one another. Brad is married to Kathy, (Jennifer Connelly) a beautiful Documentary film maker that pushes her husband to pass the Bar Exam that he's successfully failed twice. She sends him on nightly trips to the library to study where Brad often gets sidetracked into watching a couple of young skaters, skate around. Sarah is working on her dissertation and retires to the playground everyday with her daughter Lucy, to reminisce with the women of the neighborhood. Sarah is married to Richard, an awkward man with underlying motives and fantasies. Although his vanishing in the film is as awkward as he is.

    Upon talking about raising children and busy schedules, the women of the neighborhood are delighted with the return of Brad a.k.a. "The Prom King," who indulges their erotic fantasies. The attraction between Sarah and Brad isn't as obvious from the beginning but a small bet will change that. The two acquire at first, a friendship in the interest of simple companionship, a get away from their spouses, where they could feel support. After the sexual tension is ignited, it remains there through trips to the park, pool and Sarah's infamous laundry room.

    Todd Field's brutal honesty of adulthood in Suburbia is strikingly palpable and he never leaves the mind of the characters. Unfortunately Field and Perrotta often bring many questions about morality and judgment to the table and leave the subjects murky. The adaptation is great but there are so many points and features to make in this narrative, the two writers couldn't tackle each task. The dialogue is always engaging and inviting for the viewer; I always felt the need to listen to every word.

    The performances for the most part are remarkable. Patrick Wilson's "Brad" is extremely character-flawed. His immaturity is evident in every scene and Wilson does an impressive job of portraying that. Brad is stuck in a world, a world somewhere in between high school graduation and yesterday's pasta dinner. His identity seeking is never exposed until the meeting of Sarah and his immaturity is never more manifested until the finale. The underdeveloped character of Kathy is sometimes bothersome but with the flow of the story it fits the aura of the picture. Jennifer Connelly does well with her minimal screen time but it isn't the marvel of the film that stands out like other low-screen time performances have been in the past. Also, the great Noah Emmerich and Phyllis Somerville are great in their respective roles.

    The two standouts lay in the unknown comeback of Jackie Earle Haley, who plays Ronald McGovern, a recently released pedophile searching for a new beginning in a town unkind to the power of forgiveness and profound origination. In Haley, the viewer finds the most sympathy of all the players and this viewer was delighted to find it. In no way are people accepting of pedophilia, but we can start to sympathize with anyone who yearns for the restart of any kind and becomes bewildered and astray in the process. Haley's "Ronnie" is so tortured in his soul but does find security and contentment in his loving mother. She offers solace and guidance in Ronnie's rebuilding of life that adds to the atmosphere and provides a beautiful emotional center to the "Children." The other standout could be no other than the most talented young actress working today, Kate Winslet. Her "Sarah," like "Ronnie" has a tortured persona along with a yearn for happiness that is missing in her life. The symbolism of trains in the film gave amazing insight to what Sarah and Brad were really about. Winslet falls inside of "Sarah" and never comes to the surface. At 31, Winslet is still thinking of different ways to enchant the audience and give us something new every time. The vivacity of "Sarah" is sometimes hard to swallow because of her priorities with her child and Brad but in the finale you will feel comfort in the choice of her character. But this is not by any means, the best performance of her career but a definite contender nonetheless in the competitive Actress race.

    The best part of the film is the complete wrapping of it in general. Despite the many questions left unanswered, I have never felt so satisfied with the resolution of a dramatic picture like "Little Children." There is however, a coy hollowness at the center of the film but the rest makes up for seemingly unavoidable flaws that came about. Oscar consideration should focus on Picture, Director, Actress, Supporting Actor, and Adapted Screenplay and hopefully that can be in its future. This is a very artsy type movie, not for everyone, but if the Academy is feeling like nominating a "House of Sand and Fog" meets "In the Bedroom" with a subtle side of "Closer" then we'll have our dramatic independent film of the year in the Oscar race.

    Grade: ***1/2/****
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Todd Field's Little Children's screenplay was written in collaboration with Tom Perrotta, on whose eponymous novel it's based. Perrotta wrote Election's, Bad Haircut's, and Joe College's funny, ironic screenplays before this. But though mildly satirical at times in its vision of middle-class white infidelity, this second film (at last) from the director of the powerful 2000 In the Bedroom, with its themes out of Cheever or Updike, also moves toward the solemn and the shocking.

    One big reason for that is a second plot about a just-released sex offender and a troubled ex-cop who turns into a self-appointed protector of public morality campaigning to drive the ex-prisoner out of town.

    Brad (Patrick Wilson) is a househusband caring for his little boy while feebly preparing for his previously failed bar exams. He has a gorgeous but emasculating wife, Kathy (Jennifer Connelly) who's a successful PBS-style documentary filmmaker. Sarah (Kate Winslet), with an MA in English, in charge of a recalcitrant little girl with whom she has little patience at times, has a well-off distant husband (Gregg Edelman) who's a pretentious adman who gets off on Web porn. Sarah and Brad meet in a park where moms take their kids, in East Wyndham, Massachusetts. They wind up kissing when they first meet, mainly to shock the other moms.

    Brad and Sarah spend a lot of the summer minding their kids together at the municipal pool. This turns into a torrid affair with frequent sex at Sarah's husband's large house. They're attractive, and attracted, and their general dissatisfaction with their spouses and with where they are now heightens their need to throw themselves at each other with the utmost abandon.

    Meanwhile Ronnie (former child actor Jackie Earle Haley, vividly remembered from Bad News Bears and Breaking Away and strong in a new way here) has come into town: he's the sex offender, a painfully self-aware one, and he lives with the one person who loves him, his aging mother Ruth (a convincing Phyllis Somerville), while the ex-cop, Larry (Noah Emmerich) wages his war as a one-man "committee." Larry and Brad have met and Larry persuades Brad, who already wastes time watching boys skateboarding when he's supposed to be boning up for the bar exam, to join a night touch football league team made up of cops – and thus the infidelity and the sex offender elements are linked. But they would be anyway, because this is a small community. And one particularly hot day Ronnie comes to the municipal swimming pool and causes an outcry when he's spotted ogling young girls under water.

    The other moms from the park, who were afraid of Brad and called him "the Prom King," are gently satirized by a voice-over narration spoken by Will Lyman, of Frontline on PBS, which sounds like a high school educational film. Perrotta is, after all, a comic writer. But more of that later.

    The movie has a bright, intense, clear visual style, sometimes making use of extreme close-ups. Since the acting and directing are fine, this gives things a feeling of authority. It's also effective in underlining both the satirical and the sensual aspects of the story, and heightens the emotional effect when the narrative lines move toward crisis.

    Brad's development (the novel-based voice-over tells us) may have been arrested by his mother's dying when he was in his early teens, and this explains why he watches the skateboarding boys with such longing: they're having the playtime that was stolen from him.

    Another theme is that of Cheryl (Marsha Dietlein), Sarah's friend and neighbor who baby-sits with her daughter when she's having sex with Brad, speed-walks with her, and gets her into a book-discussion group leading to a pointed scene in which Madame Bovary is discussed and Sarah defends the adulterous heroine as someone who revolted in search of freedom. The older women nod approvingly, while one of the park moms doesn't get it at all.

    Partly because it's hard to juggle all these elements from a 350-page novel, the ironic narrative voice disappears throughout the film's midsection.

    At the end matters all come to a head, with Brad and Sarah, with Ronnie, and with his erstwhile nemesis, Larry, and a lot of tension is created through Hitchcockian cross-cutting between these climaxing threads.

    Field has avoided the extreme finale of his first film -- this one shares such heavy concerns as families, infidelity, crime, and confronting death, but by contrast, this ending, though breathless and troubling, is ultimately sweet and marked by reconciliation and acceptance. One may wonder if underlying issues have really been resolved. The film feels somewhat overlong, but the nuanced characterizations and fine acting and the attractiveness of the central couple entertain and interest us mightily.

    Perhaps the one weakness overall is a slight uncertainty of tone, which explains why some viewers are troubled by the voice-over (and also by its long disappearance midway). If situations are seen primarily as highly serious or even horrifying, it's hard to see how the satirical feel fits in, and at the end we seem to have lost touch with where we started out. Ultimately as with so many American stories on film, the writers seem to have tried to tackle too much material. Nothing wrong with that, but they haven't quite got the world-view to encompass it all. Technically though Field has achieved more polish and shown more confidence, even compared to his already admirable and powerful first film of five years ago. The cast is wonderful, well chosen and well used. Field is an experienced actor: he knows the craft. This has got to be a film to think about at year's end when best lists are made up.
  • chocobotkid22 September 2006
    10/10
    Superb
    I had the pleasure of seeing the premiere of "Little Children" at Telluride. The incomprable Mr.Feild hid behind the curtain near the concession at the back of the Nugget Theater wringing his hands, looking a wee bit nauseous. It was all very endearing. The film is superb. Amongst the American fare it tops my list of films fromTelluride, next to the incomprable 'Day Night Day Night' directed by Julia Loktev.

    For me, it was all about Jackie Earle Haley. Haley sneaks onto the screen 45 minutes into the narrative bursting the happy bubble of familiar ups and downs of married with children life. The result unnerving edgy tension that could be cut with a knife. Haley's performance is vulnerable, awkward and possibly the strongest male role to light up the screen this year. Haley deserves accolades, praise and loads of attention. He's been a favorite darling of mine for ages...something I had the good fortune of recounting to Feild after the screening.

    Feild provides many questions and very few answers. Haley's character may have been released from jail for indecent exposure to a minor, yet Feild does a delicate balancing act without faltering on the side of "good guy/ bad guy". This is NOT a film about pedophiles. This is a film about faults, judgments, weaknesses that consume, chew one up and spits you out again. And in the end the entire paradigm of suburban life has been twisted, shaken, pushed and pulled.

    There is tragedy, openness, shifts, that do not add up to ultimate conclusions. This complex tale weaves passion, disillusionment, love, lust, desire, ambivalence. But most importantly, the tender web of Mother-Child relations, WITHOUT ever vilifying Mother. Feild breaks from this poisonous, obsessive, castrating, oedipal mother-subject paradigm and addresses the people who float in and out of crisis above and beyond being tied to their social roles and traditional moral codes.

    Winslet encapsulates the awkward intellectual mom, who loves her daughter, but has very very human ambivalence towards this 24/7 duty of unconditional love/acceptance and never ending giving. Finally, she decides to give something back to herself, by playing out a torrid love affair with the Prom King (Patrick Wilson) another character ripe with flaws and exudes humanness.

    This should win many many many accolades for 2006, it's a rare stand out. A powerful disturbingly familiar tale played out eloquently, and held at benign distance via the brilliant use of odd narration. It's a strange convention, but Feild masters this as he skewers and satirizes and describes it's subjects with authority. The narration was pleasantly reminiscent of "Fishing with John", often obvious, but nicely pushing the plot along with often more than a hint of humor. The serious tone of the narrator serves to punctuate the utter ridiculous paradox of the banalities of being 'married with children' and having a flashy adventurous love affair in and around the locations of everyday stay at home summer existence; the park, the pool, the evening football game.

    The Affair never reveals itself as the be-all-and-end-all, answer to disillusionment and sadness of suburban middle class marriage. Nor, the cause-effect that sets the plot in motion. Even more satisfyingly, the affair does not legitimate the happy normative narrative ending.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    This movie does a wonderful job of representing the undertow of confusion and stuckness that threatens to pull people under. It cuts among interlocking stories that each center on someone who is about to dive down beneath their established life, and for entirely normal, believable reasons. 45 minutes into the film, all the main characters have thrown themselves into the vortex, creating the uneasy fear one feels for people who are about to risk everything they've deliberately built up in order to end a sense of suffocation that is much less concrete than the secure surface of their lives, but somehow more real. This is strong suspense film about that crucial question of whether or not our own happy lives actually make us feel alive.

    The movie covers an updated version of Cheever territory - the despair beneath the comforts of American suburbia. "Little Children" is better than "American Beauty" and "The Ice Storm," and is intelligent about the effects of thwarted desire in the way of Todd Haynes's "Safe." It has the eerie disorientation of "The Swimmerj" It's particularly shrewd about the original source of romantic yearning itself. The film's real "LIttle Children" are the parents from two different families who fall in love with each other. They are the stay-at-home Mom and the Mr. Mom who re-marry each other informally at the neighborhood pool where they spend every summer day taking care of their adorable kids. Together they are as bland as they are in their actual marriage. Their interest in each other doesn't unearth some suppressed power or depth in themselves, which is always the assumption behind the affair. It reflects their mutual wish to recapture the unrestricted experience they associate with childhood - no bar exams, no dissertations to finish, no spouses with budgets or habits of Internet wankfests at the work computer. You can see the affair coming with the first encounter between these two fair-haired parents who are the bored and aimless and also subordinate to their focused and competent spouses in each of their marriages. Unlike the breadwinners, these two are still looking for what they want to do in life. When they seem to find that thing in their daily poolside parenting and then later in their daily sex, they are put by the film into strict parallel with their preschool kids sharing their afternoon naps. It's a nice dream - play and sleep, play and sleep, all feeling unforced and unchangingly attractive, every day happily the same. As if.

    The other true thing about the movie is that Sarah and Brad (Winsett and Wilson) resolve to run off together and then chicken out and chicken out accidentally-on-purpose, in ways that allow them to go "home" to their focused, successful spouses who are capable of taking care of them, and yet go home without acknowledging to themselves that this is what they really want. Sarah concocts a panic attack when her child wanders out of her sight for five minutes in the nighttime park where she had gone to meet Brad. Brad interrupts his trip to destiny to fulfill his wannabe skateboarder dreams, injuring his beautiful body and giving himself the perfect excuse never to try anything again. Lots and lots of us finally stand up for ourselves only to take this kind of dive right away, as soon as we decently can. One reason is that we stood up for the wrong thing, even though it took us forever to do so.

    So can the problems be overlooked? Well let's inventory them. The movie polarizes straight and sensitive suburbia in a phony way. The other moms are stereotypes of sexual repression, living on the edge of hysteria. When Brad and Sarah first kiss in front of them (on a jokey dare from Sarah), the moms grab up their kids and flee just as the neighborhood moms do later at the pool when the registered sex offender is found swimming around with a mask and snorkel. The same false polarity infects the original marriages: the dominant spouses are so disconnected from their partners that you wonder how they could have been married for even a few weeks: why would a phony, money-grubbing "brander" ever have married a failed English lit PhD student, or vice versa, and why would a smart documentary maker ever marry the pretty but super-dull Brad, whose soul can be filled through the camaraderie of night-league football? In the film's clunkiest moment, Ronnie, the sex offender, has a date with an attractive, clinically-depressed thirtysomething (played well by Jane Adams), bonds with her in a sympathetic, fraternal way, and then as she's praising their conversation in the car starts to jerk off and threaten her like a possessed maniac. The moment destroys the analogy between criminalized and "normal" perversion that had helped to humanize Ronnie (his mother is the film's strongest single character, played brilliantly by Phyllis Somerville). His auto-mutilation at the end just reproduces the suburban sexual hysteria the film supposedly critiques. Equally implausible is that his tormentor, the other unloved man, ex-cop and night-league loser Larry, turns into his rescuer: this is the kind of instant redemption that the basic intelligence of this film would rule out. The problem is the film undermines the quasi-heroic struggles of their flawed main characters - Ronnie, Brad, and Sarah - so that their weak and pathetic ends make the earlier dramas seem unreal in retrospect. If they fold THIS easily, then what were we watching the previous two hours.

    The men in this film - ouch. They are useless and dangerous by turns. The women are suffocated and unhappy. The American middle-class comes off badly - spoiled, unfocused, and without the strength to save itself or anybody else. We are, the movie says, the little children of world.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    In the spirit of "Grand Canyon" and "American Beauty," this is an overwrought epic about sex panic in America. While it's good to have conversations about sexuality, monogamy and the treatment of people convicted of sex crimes, the writing in this script is so wooden that the result is nearly unbearable. There's actually a voice-over narration with a cheesy male voice that begs the question "Is this a satire?" I kept waiting for the irony to break through, but it doesn't. It becomes clear that this is Hollywood congratulating itself for taking on large social issues, albeit only the concerns of suburban rich white people.

    The voice over is over the top. Kate Winslet will be looking off into the mist and there will be a voice over saying something like "Sarah thought about her life with her husband. She wasn't happy." Things that are so basic and emotional, the sort of things that should be adapted into dialogue or acting. Voice overs should only be used if the writing voice is extraordinary (it isn't) or there is some sort of satirical bent (there isn't).

    The film takes on the tenor of a B-grade horror movie taking itself way too seriously. The final scenes, where Ronnie, the man arrested for exposing himself to a minor, completely reverts to childlike, faux-retarded behavior and smashes his mother's menagerie of glass figurines. Tennessee Williams this is not. When he castrates himself at the end, I actually groaned out loud. Naturally, since it's Hollywood, everything is restored to the status quo at the end. Everyone has an epiphany and sees the light and goes back to their unhappy marriages. I was dumbfounded! I kept thinking about all those people on Oscar night — the voters and the people involved with this film and all the critics who gave this movie its reputation — actually cooperating with this idea that THIS is the best Hollywood can do in terms of social commentary. "In the Bedroom" was a very different movie, but mostly because there were better actors and a basis of solid writing by Andre Dubus. This script and the book it was based on are the lowest common denominator. Shame on Hollywood for peddling such crap.

    This is an update on 1950s sexual hysteria. It's not smart and it's not art.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    I watched this tonight in order to avoid a downpour of rain in New York City. I love Kate Winslet and she was fantastic in this film. I saw "In the Bedroom" and "Little Children" had a similar style but was much more riveting. I was warned by a writer friend of mine, that the pedophilia might turn me off to the film, but the issues raised were brilliantly-woven into the plot line, and I never shy away from watching films that portray potential realities.

    It was a good film. The actors were spot-on, and Jennifer Connelly was also really great. I recommend this film to anyone.

    The movie ended on an ambiguous note- i'm not sure how I feel about the outcome of how the characters ended up. The love affair between the adulterers was charming and real, but in the end, it seemed like the end of the film took upon a moral note without convincingly demonstrating how the characters ended up in their decisions. It's almost like the story decided not to carry things through and reveal the possibilities of the plot line, because the film 'had to end.' Despite this, it was a good film, and raises a lot of questions.
  • Rindiana27 October 2010
    Another pseudo-probing look into suburban hell, this sedate cousin of "American Beauty" marks Field's second failure to find adequate ways of grappling fragile relationships American style.

    Just as it was the case with the director's highly overrated "In the Bedroom", this all too smug and superficial adult dramedy goes the artsy route without ever finding a deeper reasoning for its "critical" attitudes. The pic can't even decide which standpoint to take towards its flawed protagonists.

    The good ensemble actors aren't to blame, and some scenes are effective in a manipulative sort of way, but the contrived ending with all its annoying martyrdom (and silly coincidences) ruins a partly interesting character study.

    5 out of 10 weekday relationships
  • AmyTee218 September 2008
    I had heard so much about this film -- such horrahs! Finally saw it last night and found it to be a one-note disappointment full of woefully miscast actors with the added bonus of scripted caricatures.

    For god knows what reason, the director tossed in a narrator to tell me what to think just in case the actors he cast could not convey what he demanded I take away from his bland little film. As the film began I thought it was going to be a comedy, a satire. We see three "typical suburban" housewives, we're taught by the intrusive narrator... typical suburban housewives? What lazy shorthand twaddle. What is a typical urban house wife? Sitting apart from them -- this is meant to sledgehammer home the point -- "Sarah was not a typical suburban housewife?" Huh? Why, because she has a MFA? I've lived in cities all my life, and I would say that the "bridge and tunnel crowd", if you'll excuse the expression, comes in all stripes. Sarah is played by Kate Winslet. We are later told by the narrator that she's unattractive and boyish... Kate Winslet? Kate Winslet's husband, who is having a virtual affair with an internet porn star, is a nothing character. He is there for no other reason that to make Winslet's character sympathetic in her adultery. Patrick Wilson who plays the unemployed ex-jock is positively pallid -- he is so bland and lifeless that we wonder what his wife, a documentary film maker played by Jennifer Connelly is doing with him. Apparently, as I read later, Connelly is meant to convey a brittle nature, cold and cunning but in this film she seems fragile -- a quality virtually always conveyed by Connelly. She seems to adore her son, she's affectionate, her son adores her. But apparently I was supposed to see her as distant and unable to be loving with her son in contrast to her instant empathy with the children in her documentary.

    Then a man who exposed himself to a minor gets out of jail and moves to town. This rallies those suburbanites in fear. He, we are told by other characters, is a child molester. He too becomes an instant stereo type -- all child-molesters are piggy-eyed, pock-faced mini-monsters with zero social skills who live with their mommies. For crying out loud! What makes child molesters scary is they have no distinguishing characteristics. In real life, we find out the youth pastor is a child molester, or our accountant, or our brother-in-law.

    The whole thing rang utterly false.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    A release that I had looked forward to for almost a month after seeing the trailer in the theatre, it had finally hatched in October. Tom Perrotta's "satirical" 2004 novel had been released and I was able to finish reading it before the film's impending release. The film stars Kate Winslet (who, along with Guy Pearce, have both mastered the American accent in ennui), Academy Award-winning Jennifer Connelly (who unfortunately does not have enough screen time) and rising newcomer Patrick Wilson (destined to become the next Josh Lucas). The other comeback (and so many reviewers have mentioned him already) is the return of former teen heartthrob Jackie Earle Haley ("Breaking Away," "The Bad News Bears") as a parolee pedophile who is carefully insinuated in the film's climax. A redeeming endeavor on film involving such an un-redeeming character.

    The film is about two married suburbanites who are stay-at-home parents that embark on an affair (Winslet and Wilson) while their spouses are bringing home the bacon. Winslet's husband is already a pathetic sap whose addicted to internet porn, so it's not hard to empathize with Kate's endeavors (although the right thing for her would to up and leave him- but then that would be an entirely different movie). Wilson who is married to Connelly is different- because despite of how slightly emasculating she is on her husband, the woman is still likable. At the film's climax, Kate tells Patrick that their sneaking around is weird and she wants closure (which of course a lot of people in her position would want as well). Although in the book, her character never asserted herself like that. I also found myself comparing the film to the novel (which at times seemed over-written). There were subtle changes that were made due to time, budget and cinematic reasons, but the best change was of the ending as opposed to the book's. The book's ending was so contrived and implausible, Field did a superb job with coming up with something less anti-climatic and more shocking. This is one of those rarities in where you can honestly say that the film was better than the book. Another sequence that was excised from the movie that was in the book was the fact that Kathy had not only figured out that Brad was having an affair with Sarah, but she acted as if they were competing athletes and that he received the gold medal and she just got the silver instead, and that it wasn't fair to her. That too, was implausible and I was relieved that that was gone. In the book, Sarah (Winslet) was more needy and Kathy (Connelly) was producing a documentary about WWII vets rather than Desert Storm.

    My real complaint about this film (aside from the under-usage of Connelly) was the narrative voice-over that would present itself throughout the picture. Although it was well-written (taken verbatim from the novel at times), it was slightly distracting. It seemed to offer a perspective of the character's innermost feelings at times, but it also seemed as if the narrator was talking to the audience as if they were "children," and it seemed unnecessary. But that is probably the desired effect here: with the narration, the viewer almost feels as if they are watching a psychology film studying infidelity with that borderline-baritone, ominous-sounding voice sequestering the characters and their actions from the audience. The narration did provide some comic relief for the audience though, whereas Todd Field's first film "In the Bedroom" did not. Field probably learned from that and proved with a vengeance that he could make a better film.

    I would not be surprised to see this film on the ballot around Oscar season: Kate Winslet truly deserves props for her performance (especially at the end where her character breaks down- you can sense the overall frustration that she has and her epiphany is spliced within her sobs). Jackie Earle Haley without any word said deserves a Best Supporting Actor nomination, but I know because of the lack of publicity and the limited number of theatres this film venued at, there is little hope for a little film with "little" in its title that will really score big.
  • ferguson-628 October 2006
    Greetings again from the darkness. Where the heck have you been, Todd Field? Last seen directing 2001's excellent "In The Bedroom", Field delivers another remarkable drama with "Little Children". He proves again his insight into real people and real relationships is a bit eerie and almost tough to watch as we often recognize ourselves in his characters.

    An incredibly well acted movie led by the usually mediocre Kate Winslet and an on the rise Patrick Wilson ("The Alamo", "Hard Candy" and this year's "Running With Scissors"), the cast creates an atmosphere of real life allowing us to forget the performances and concentrate on the multi-layered story (co-written by Field and novelist Tom Berrotta). The genius in the film is in so many specific moments within the scenes. Jennifer Connelly (as Wilson's wife, and although still beautiful, she is scary skinny) at the dinner table when she realizes, Winslet as she is putting her daughter on the floorboard of the car, Wilson as he sneaks off the train, and the mothers at the swimming pool when they realize a predator has pierced their inner sanctum. That predator is Jackie Earle Haley who is just outstanding in his brutally tough role. Haley was seen earlier this year in "All The King's Men" and hopefully is experiencing a real comeback. Although he will always be remembered as the talented center fielder in "Bad News Bears", he definitely has more to offer.

    Really good dramatic stories are so rare these days. Movie makers tend to be frightened of the tough decisions we all face every day and they fall back on proved formulas and feel good fluff. This movie is real and tough and will force you to analyze your life and perspective. What a marvelous thing to be able to say about a film.

    So, yes I highly recommend the film, but more importantly implore Mr. Field to not leave us hanging for another 5 years. Film lovers need you!!
  • Warning: Spoilers
    this film was one of the worst "serious" films I saw the last years: not only that the story jumps from one unrealistic, hysterical, embarrassing, thus painful Outburst to the next, the worst thing is the strictly designed (false) Moral: if you dare to fall in Love though you are married with a more beautiful woman with even definitely longer legs, you will be punished and brought back to reasons by an almost lethal accident. If you fall in Love 'cause your husband sniffs on strange & paid other's panties, destiny will have Mercy on you. If you are a bad exhibitionist, you can gain a huge step of respect: from the biggest perverse and dangerous Pig in Town to a "Buddy"- by cutting off your Dick first. -Congratulations! That was the Plot (and the "Spoiler"). -excuse my poor English, I hope you've got my opinion, though.
  • andrei-m11 August 2007
    Warning: Spoilers
    After reading some comments in the local newspaper I expected a funny, well played movie about modern parents. Being a parent myself I wanted to laugh a little about our anguishes and dreams and little regrets.

    "Little children" felt like a horror movie. I came out deeply sad. Sarah (Kate Winslet) is surrounded by a company of perverts (her husband Richard is in love with an internet porn star, Ronnie is a child abuser - really scary, very convincingly played by J E Haley) simply mean people (the other mothers as soon as they notice that Sarah has more pride and courage than they have; Larry the ex-cop who has a logical explanation why he is so mean but no excuse; in a more subtle way Kathy Adamson played by J Connelly) and cold hearted idiots like handsome Patrick. For Sarah there is no way out. There is nobody she can trust and she is very lonely among all those deranged or mean people.

    She meets Patrick and has a very sweet relationship with him. She accepts his inferior intelligence and his primordial fear of his wife, and she understands his difficulty to accept his own feelings. They both try hard not to hurt anybody's feelings. Patrick's wife Kathy notices nevertheless. Strangely she barely reacts. I didn't understand this figure, she is very controlling toward Patrick but gives him no warmth, no confidence, no answers. It seemed to me she didn't really care very much for him as long as he did his chores and wanted no sex with her. Kathy scared me almost as much as Ronnie.

    The end is just weird. Patrick is in love with Sarah, they had wonderful sex which he craved for, he knows she waits for him in a park at night in a neighborhood with not 1 but 2 dangerously deranged men, he knows she has her little daughter with her. And he forgets her on his way to meet her. He's just fooling around then falls on his head. That's all. Now if this is not a bad screenplay I don't know.

    Then Ronnie's horrible mother - she seemed for me more than a sufficient reason to become as mad as he was - dies and he castrates himself. The movie tries to sell you this horrid scene as some kind of catharsis, of self inflicted justice. This I found shocking. This guy is sick, he belongs in an asylum or hospital, not amputated. What's the idea ? Are all deranged people to blame ? Should they kindly punish themselves ?

    Probably the screenplay was written by people with completely other values than me. They probably can laugh at all the humiliating and scary situations in which they place Sarah but I wasn't able to laugh even once. If you have children and want to see a nightmare, this movie is for you. Kate Winslet and Patrick Wilson are both doing a great job, a pity Wilson's role is so inconsistent and in the end plainly absurd. A star for each of them. Poor Jennifer Connelly, her role is close to meaningless, she seems to be there just so Patrick Wilson has someone to be afraid of.
  • My friends advised me against watching 'Little Children' as they found it very boring. Having liked Todd Field's previous film 'In The Bedroom' and knowing that it had Kate Winslet and Jennifer Connelly (whose works I very much admire alongside their beauty), I decided to watch it anyway. The poster was a put-off as the tagline stated: Twin Peaks meets Desperate Housewives. I hate such taglines where the movie concerned is being compared to other films, TV series or whatever. On top of that, I am no fan of 'Desperate Housewives'. However I found the trailer appealing as it gave the impression that it was a dark film about a married couple (Connelly and Wilson) and the other woman (Winslet), it appealed to me. Only later I will find out that I've been deceived.

    Sadly, 'Little Children' is not as great as I had expected. The idea of juggling too stories did not seem fitting and on top of that the film drags a lot. On one side there's a story about a married couple, in which the husband has an affair with a married woman. On the other side there's a story about a 'child molester' who has just moved in with his mother to an unwelcoming neighborhood and to make things worse, he is constantly harassed by an ex-copper. Both stories are interesting but would have faired better in two films rather than being squeezed as one. In addition to that, the ending of the first story does not convince. It seemed a little too abrupt, as if the director was in a hurry to wrap it up. It looks as though the writers tried to tackle too many ideas. The voice-over seems pointless. Some editing would have stopped the film from dragging.

    On the brighter side, I found the visuals very impressive. The frames are quite well done and the cinematography is superb. The sound adds to the feeling of loneliness and the soundtrack and background score is beautiful. Overall, the film does look polished. It does achieve the satirical feel but somehow loses it.

    And, of course, what would 'Little Children' be without the solid performances? Kate Winslet is electrifying as Sarah Pierce. Patrick Wilson is quite alright. Sadly, Jennifer Connelly has little to do but just in that one scene at the dinner table (with Sarah and Brad) she proves again what an excellent actress she is. Jackie Earle Haley too stands out in a difficult role while Noah Emmerich is loud at times but okay otherwise. Phyllis Somerville shines.

    While I noticed that many people felt that 'Little Children' was vulgar because of the sex scenes. I thought the scenes were quite sensual and contributed well to the film. I do not understand why people have a problem with the character Ronnie being someone you can sympathize with rather than hate. I liked that the character was portrayed as a flawed human who knows that he has a problem rather than some kind of a monster. There are a few disturbing sequences which can irritate some people.

    To sum it up, 'Little Children' is like two films in one...where it would have been better as two. At times it appears to be pretentious and the lethargic pace does not help. However, it has its moments, great performances, a dazzling soundtrack, fine camera-work and makes its point (even though it could have done that more effectively).
  • Spaceygirl6 May 2007
    Warning: Spoilers
    "Little Children" is quite simply put, brilliant. It helps that the source material is top-notch but "Little children" has a cracker of a script! While Kate Winslet, as usual, turns in a fine performance as an embittered housewife it is Jackie Earl Haley who puts in a tour de force. He practically chews up the scenery when he's on screen. I can't remember where I've seen him before, but it was a long time ago. Kudos to whoever cast him in this role. The story is a simple one and one can imagine this making a good play as the locations are simple and few. While other films make a big show about "cinematography" and special effects, "Little Children" simply gets on with what's important. Storyline. Dialogue. Acting. I can't imagine why "Little Children" was overlooked at this years Oscar. In my opinion, it stands its own against "The Departed" et al. Update: Having seen the exalted "Little Miss Sunshine" with Supporting Actor Winner Alan Arkin, all I can say is, Jackie Earl Haley was robbed!!!! What a travesty of justice!!!
  • christian9413 February 2007
    Todd Field has become in the space of two pictures, the new voice of intellectual introspective cinema. Gifted writer, he earns his second nomination for best (adapted) screenplay at both Golden Globes & Academy Awards with this one, joining the ranks of contemporary writer Charlie Kaufman who now has three (two original and one adapted - in five films); the Cohen brothers also having two nominations for the Globes & Oscars, but from three different films and after ten screenplays.

    Todd thus skillfully adapts yet another novel, and with the flair for putting it to life audio-visually. The use of the satirical voice-over narrator and the experimenting with plush pertinent visuals are but examples of storytelling tools he incorporates seamlessly and that add layers, beauty and creativity to an already complex piece. Todd is primarily a great writer, but also a great director and thus the perfect storyteller. Coming from an acting background he is bar-none when it comes to giving his actors the chance to shine. Kate Winslet does just that here with her torn, innocent character, and Jennifer Connelly plays her small part well, but almost everyone is believable and add dimensions to their roles, although the cast could not quite match "In the Bedroom" in raw talent.

    Going back to the screenplay, it is rich with quirky human dialogue with its various undertones and is able to sustain interest through the intertwining of the story lines that take you for a ride. As you are high in enjoyment and involvement, you keep wondering if this pace can sustain throughout the entire 140mins. Well, in a big way, it can.

    The directing is fluid and although never leaving this typical small town, it feels like Todd takes us places and brings to life playgrounds, pools, football field, houses, offices... Even more so, he brings us places intellectually and emotionally. The questioning, the conflicts, the challenges, the parallels and metaphors...

    Coping with every day life with its small and big problems. Searching for who we are, what we really want and how that affects the ones around us. Accepting others and accepting ourselves. Parenthood. Marriagehood. Neighboorhood. Love. Friendhip. Fears. Societal pressures. Genetic predispositions. Choices. Consequences. Lies. Attraction. Cycles. Tangents. Insecurity. Awareness. Paths. Communication. Guilt. Connections. Inner world. Unresolved.

    In all its seeming simplicity and straightforwardness, "Little Children" leaves us a little bit like little children: overwhelmed, slightly confused, but always smiling. With a fabulous way of being always slightly unattainable and fleeting, this movie is like a dreamy romantic love affair that is too good to become a sustainable stable long term relationship, that is, that is too good to be true, but not false enough not to be thoroughly enjoyed.

    A movie that enchant you, make you laugh, smile, think and feel. What more can one ask from a cinematic journey?
  • Saw this film last night--while it was a mostly enjoyable couple of hours, I really feel that it's overrated. For starters, the whole way through I felt like I was watching the distilled cinematic version of a novel, and I had no idea about the source material going in. Jennifer Connelly is fantastic and should've been given more screen time in the final cut (not sure why--or did she?--agree to be second banana to Kate Winslet). I think the two leads are miscast . . . Patrick Wilson does not ring true as the self-doubting ex-jock (the whole skateboarding metaphor is a joke, particularly later on). His performance is okay, but I'm just not buying him in the role. Way too pretty, and I agree with what others have said: that it's highly unlikely two beautiful, privileged spouses would be at such different places in their lives so early in their marriage. Same goes for Winslet--too pretty and smart (the film suggests she's an ABD lit. academic) to be married to such a top-drawer weenie, plus I found her US accent this time out was a little too distracting/patrician for the suburban role.

    There's no nuance in the secondary characters--I found Noah Emmerich's performance to be annoying/uninteresting . . . he was just kind of like a wet pair of diapers that won't go away, and if he's one of the "little children," that's not nearly enough to hold my interest. Similarly, the suburban moms are presented in a totally ridiculous way: let's see, we've got a Witches of Eastwick-lite blond mom, a red-haired mom, and a black-haired mom all sitting together on the park bench (you see, they have to sit together 'cause they're all essentially the same stock character). But Winslet is different, 'cause, like, she's on the other bench. Just too cartoony for me, and again later in the book club segment blond mom is presented as a one-note drone. Not to say those moms don't exist, but I really don't see the point here other than to hit the "stupid" viewer over the head. This is a pretty easy target for the filmmaker/screenwriter. Other than in Jackie Earle Haley's character, where's the complexity? The best movies have character actors who offer layered performances.

    The dragnet cop–sounding narrator also didn't really work for me. A little too droll by half. And I must say that I'm growing very weary of the show-ending-intercut-montage-sequence-with-voice-over device that every drama on TV currently exploits to the hilt, and now apparently filmmakers feel the need to use. Please, directors, avoid the bravura montage sequence . . . I'm begging you! Magnolia really created a monster with that.

    See the movie and decide for yourself. I'm not sorry I saw it—I was just expecting more. Love that Connelly, though. I think I'd probably watch her reciting the phone book.
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