Directed by Todd Field.
Written by Todd Field and Tom Perrotta. Based on the novel
by Tom Perrotta.
Starring Kate Winslet, Patrick Wilson, Jackie Earle Haley and
Release Year: 2006
Review Date: 10/19/06
Much like his earlier film
Bedroom”, writer/director Todd Field’s “Little Children”—based
on a novel by Tom Perrotta—is so good that you wonder why the man
was working in TV for so long. And much like “In the Bedroom”,
“Little Children” takes a strong look at the home life of married
adults and makes you come away realizing that temptation even in the
most committed of people is just one mistake away.
The story concerns a married man named Brad
(Patrick Wilson, from this year’s
who has graduated from law school but not passed the bar in his home
of Massachusetts. As such, he’s a stay-at-home dad to his young boy
and married to a successful documentary filmmaker named Kathy
(Jennifer Connelly) who is the workaholic of the family. One day,
while playing with his son in a small neighborhood park, he meets
Sarah (Kate Winslet), the stay-at-home mother of a little girl and
wife of a brand marketing exec (Gregg Edelman). Sarah and Brad and
their kids begin to spend time during the day together, most notably
at the neighborhood pool, and their collective unhappiness with
their respective marriages leads to some risqué behavior.
Meanwhile, a man convicted of indecent exposure to a minor, a
strange little man named Ronnie (Jackie Earle Haley), has moved back
into the same neighborhood where Brad and Sarah’s families live, and
because of laws requiring that residents be aware that sex offenders
are living amongst them, many of the town members—including a former
cop (Noah Emmerich)—go out of their way to make Ronnie feel
unwelcome in his new life.
There’s a lot happening in “Little Children”
but the two main storylines never seem to be cheated…the Sarah/Brad
relationship gets plenty of time but as the film moves along, we get
more and more of Ronnie, which worked for me just fine, because his
story (and the way his character intersects with the main plot late
in the movie) is an intriguing one and a situation where you
actually feel some pity for a guy that really does appear to want to
correct his past mistake. Field also utilizes a narrator to strong
effect during “Little Children”; almost as effective as his use of
silence throughout “In the Bedroom”, the narrator is at times quite
funny, dead serious or fairly insightful as he guides us through the
experience. Field doesn’t overdo it with the narrator; actually, in
stretches, the narrator is nowhere to be found. But when it shows
up, the narration is well done and something about the guy’s voice
is just perfectly stiff for the situation.
The performances are excellent, but the work
by Haley is the best of the bunch; he just makes you uncomfortable
from the jump, and as the film wears on Haley’s work just seems to
step up a notch. Of course, the main threesome of Winslet, Wilson
and Connelly are all great; the support coming from the women
playing Sarah’s friends is solid, Phyllis Somerville is fantastic as
Ronnie’s mom, and even the child actors playing the kids of Sarah
and Brad are good and don’t interfere with the things happening
around them…usually, child actors are a distraction because their
reactions to adult conversation seem canned, but the work here is
I really liked “Little Children” and I can’t
believe that our freebie wasn’t a packed house; maybe it was the AFI
location in Silver Spring that did it, but when this puppy opens, I
expect many people to come away satisfied. Of course, if you were
thinking about cheating on your spouse or partner coming into this
film, you might NOT come away satisfied!!!
Rating: Opening Weekend
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Bellview Rating System:
"Opening Weekend": This is
the highest rating a movie can receive. Reserved for movies that
exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development,
setting...or Salma Hayek. Not necessarily in that order.
"$X.XX Show": This price
changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently,
it is the $9.50 Show. While not technically perfect, this is a
movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.
"Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca",
but you'll have a great time watching. The $9.50 Show won't win any
Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see
"Matinee": An average movie
that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.
Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about
yourself. A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave
the theater saying "That wasn't too bad...man, did you see that
Lakers game last night?"
"Rental": This rating
indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your
friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one." Mostly forgettable, you
couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to
watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the
video store was out of copies of "Ronin." If you can, see this
movie for free. This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a
"Hard Vice": This rating is
the bottom of the barrel. A movie that only six other human beings
have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen. A Shannon
Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every
one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a
movie. Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or
"Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this
movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!
(Warning: strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard