movies, music and everything else

This blog is about pretty much what the title implies... movies, music and everything else.

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Wednesday, January 03, 2007

"Little Children" for adults

When I first saw Todd Field’s follow-up to the Oscar nominated IN THE BEDROOM, I liked the film, but was not what I wanted it to be. What I did notice was that the movie stayed with me long after I left the theater. The themes, the characters and the storytelling stuck in my mind and when I was able to go and revisit the film a month later, I saw it for the film that it really is.
LITTLE CHILDREN is not a film that is easily summarized. On the surface it is the story of three people living in upstate New York that are all dealing with their own issues and the issues of the people in their lives.
First there is the character of Sarah Pierce (Kate Winslet), a woman that married a rich man, moved into a big house and had a daughter. This development in her life has caused her to put herself and her life on hold and settle into a life that she never really seemed to want. Her marriage is stale and filled with apathy and her relationship with her daughter is one peppered with resentment. She loves her daughter, but there is a feeling that she doesn’t like her much. While she refuses to get a baby sitter, she is also frustrated that there is never any time for her to have to herself. The only solace that she finds is in her evening walks when she is away from her daughter, her husband and she can just have “her time”.
Then there is the character of Brad Adamson (Patrick Wilson) who is a househusband. His wife Kathy (Jennifer Connelly) is a documentarian and he is the one that stays at home, makes dinner and cares for their son Aaron. Brad loves his son, but there is something that is in the way of their connection. It is a connection that Aaron shares with Kathy that, no matter how hard he tries, Brad cannot compete with. This leaves him feeling like a substitute parent. His relationship with his wife is equally as frustrating. She is successful, brings in the money and he is reliant on her. There is no real passion in their marriage and it seems more like a parental one. She tells him what to spend money on and robs him of what pride that he has at this stage in his life. The one thing that he is working for is to pass the bar exam. Something that she wants, but not what he does. Because of that, when he leaves at night to go to the library to study, he never quite makes it there. Instead, he stops by a group of teenagers and watches them skateboard, remembering the time in his life when he felt free and took chances. This is the time when he is able to step out of his life and find a semblance of happiness.
Ronald James McGorvey (Jackie Earl Haley) is the most controversial character in LITTLE CHILDREN. He plays a convicted sex offender that moves back into his mother’s house in the neighborhood. While we don’t get introduced to his character until about 45 minutes into the film, there is much talk about him from the first scene. His presence in the area causes a panic. His struggle is more internal with what he wants and who is wants to be rather than with the outside world. His mother May is the only person in the world that believes in Ronald and pushes him to be the person that she believes he can be. While he wants nothing more than to make his mother happy and to be that person, he can’t overcome his demons. This is the trickiest of the stories in the film and the one that worked in ways that I didn’t think possible.
The last of the four lead characters is that of ex-cop Larry Hedges (Noah Emmerich) who leads the campaign against Ronald, attempting to warn the parents in the community that there is a sex offender in their midst. This campaign becomes an unhealthy obsession that consumes him and ruins his life. While there is motivation to this obsession, I won’t get into it for spoiler reasons.
The real stand out of the movie is the director Todd Field though. He uses really unconventional filmmaking techniques that draw you into this world and capture a difficult (and almost impossible) tone. It is a complex story with even more complex characters and he balances them like a master. Then there is the unusual use of narration… not voice over from one of the characters, but a third party narration, that provides a much needed distance from the action that helps in the creation of that specific tone. The narration is consistent throughout the film and creates an atmosphere for the film that resembles a book. This is helpful due to the fact that the movie is based on the book by Tom Perrotta (who co-wrote the script with Field).
I know that it might appear that I have given too much information, but the movie is so complex with it’s emotions and moral questions, that this does not even scratch the surface of what LITTLE CHILDREN is about. It is a movie about judgment (both of others and of one’s self), about self worth, about complacency, tolerance, and taking action in your own life.
LITTLE CHILDREN is a really unique film and one that really should be seen multiple times to be able to absorb all that is going on. On first viewing, it might feel slightly off or unbalanced as it did for me, but I recommend that you let it settle. Allow yourself to think about the film before rushing to judgment. If you don’t, I feel like you might miss one of the best films of the year and one of the most interesting films of the last few years. This is a challenging movie that does not play by the rules and actually asks the audience to think about what they are watching.


Anonymous divx movies said...

Yesterday I watched this film with my husband.Great romantic film. We both enjoyed it lot. Fantastic movie..Hoping that watch it once again.

5:09 AM  

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