Rated: R for graphic language, graphic violence, nudity, and strong sexual content.
Genre: Drama
Directed By: Todd Field
Running Time: 2:10
Review by: Felix Vasquez Jr.
Review Date: 6/22/07
Special Features:

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Normally, I would basically write this film off as pretentious crap, a film that’s so self-congratulatory that it’s narrated like a book, almost as if the writer has to spell all the acts out for us. But, then “Little Children” won me over, not because of my notions, but because it’s an interesting commentary on hypocrisy. It’s about the people we ostracize in our society in order to make ourselves feels justified, when we ourselves can be guilty of different sins. It’s the things we do behind close doors that make us feel just as ashamed as the other folks, even though we’d never admit it. It’s not just a film, it’s how people interact and react in this world, and “Little Children” just happens to pinpoint it during the “clean” and “sterile” suburbia where happiness is just a superficial notion.

And most importantly, the folks in the film are all nothing but despicable individuals worthy of a normal Neil Labute film; through this Field manages to subdue our expectations and often brings our characters to the lowest point possible, and surprisingly brings the “guiltiest” character of the bunch, as somewhat sympathetic; especially when you compare him to the likes of the regular cast, which includes a chronic masturbator, a demeaning cold newswoman, and a wasted shell of a cop.  

Field grabs us from the get go observing his characters, who also observe one another in their surroundings and most often present less of a sense of giving and selflessness than their actual children who sit and watch almost aimlessly while their parents stagger back and forth between going about their affairs. Winslet is very good as the observant Sarah Pierce who almost compares herself to Madam Bovary which gives her an exception to have an affair with the hunky dad Brad, played with show stealing finesse by Patrick Wilson; the two catch one another’s eyes from minute one, and stumble about seeking every single excuse that would justify their slowly progressing relationship, and torrid affair.

The wrap around plot involves Jackie Earl Haley giving an excellent performance as the oddly sympathetic child molester Ronnie who has now become the pariah of the neighborhood, and seeks just to be left alone, yet can never seem to know any better to stay away from child inhabited areas. The narrator in his disembodied observations and fervor, seems to watch each and every character like a wild life documentary host chronicling, not just the interaction between the folks in the story, but of humans period. And the often twisted take on morality never seems to take us to task for chastising a pedophile, when there are other folks committing equally damaging tasks in their own little world.

Field’s “Little Children” is one of the many movies of the Oscar season that manages to be pretty damn overrated in the end. One of the caveats that brings me to that conclusion is the often excruciating narration that just about spells everything out that a normal competent editing job could accomplish. If it was actually difficult to adapt the novel onto screen without narrating, I fail to see what the point of adapting the source material was in the first place. This instills with it a sense of the self congratulatory, a feeling that the film is almost aware that it’s “brilliant,” and will alienate the viewer from its attempts to force the wit and quirky situations that strive to be edgy, and are never quite, as much as Field thinks. “Little Children” is pretty overbearing at times, in spite of its quality, and is one of the more overrated Oscar bait in years.

It's a rather overrated, and self-congratulatory drama, but "Little Children" also provides a taut commentary on hypocrisy, human interaction, and the lies we tell ourselves, with great performances from Winslet, Haley, and Wilson, respectively.



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