Thursday, January 25, 2007

Little Children

Todd Field | 2006 | 130 min | USA

I recognized the director's name as the credits rolled, but didn't realize until after the showing that he had done In The Bedroom, as well. I loved that film and Little Children is in a similar vein, looking at the fragile relationships behind the veneer of polite suburbia. The film centers on the tense friendship between two stay-at-home parents of young children. The friendship soon gives way to an affair, and we follow how this relationship affects those around them, from their spouses to casual neighbourhood acquaintances. Very affecting, realist story, and really good performances all around. Why does Kate Winslet do so many awful movies? Is she that terrible at choosing jobs? This film is a reminder that she's capable of doing amazing work. She and Patrick Wilson, as her lover Brad, both give us sympathetic, cruel, caring, and sexually charged turns.

The film employs a narrator throughout, and the choice of voices was brilliant. I had my suspicions when I was watching, but I had to look him up when I got home. My suspicions were confirmed when I found the voice was indeed that of the longtime narrator of the PBS documentary series Frontline.

A friend mentioned to me that he thought Jane Adams essentially did a retread of her character from Happiness. That's a valid complaint. She almost always plays neurotic weirdos and I could have done with someone else in that part, but she did a very good job in a very difficult couple of scenes. I had a similar complaint about the actor who played Ronnie. I would have preferred an actor who looked like less of an evil molester cliche, but again, he did a great job and those are minor issues.

Finally, I was happy to see the ending avoid any 'poetic tragedy' or ridiculous coincidences a la Crash that I was worried it was coming to.

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