Little Children

I love this time of year. All the Oscar® bait comes out at the end of the year, and in January and February I’m catching up with them. Little Children is director Todd Field’s second film (In the Bedroom, his first, was my top pick of 2001 and was nominated for best picture). This new one got three Oscar® nominations: best actress, best supporting actor, and best adapted screenplay. Since I’m usually behind, I’m always seeing things just before they disappear from theaters. In this case my only real choice was to go to the new Century Redwood City 20, which I hadn’t been to before.

I’m really glad I made the effort. This film is even better than I expected.

The story is mainly about Sarah (Kate Winslet) and Brad (Patrick Wilson from Hard Candy), who are married. But not to each other. Brad, a stay at home father who is studying to take the bar exam for the third time, has been nicknamed Prom King by the neighborhood mothers, who have never actually talked to him. Sarah does, and unexpected sparks fly. The other key character is Ronnie (Jackie Earle Haley, who played Moocher in Breaking Away), who has recently been released after serving time for indecent exposure in front of children. Needless to say, his release has caused a huge uproar from the community.

The film makes extensive use of narration by the uncredited but excellent Will Lyman. At first it bothered me a bit, partly because narration is usually a cheat on the part of the screenwriters and/or the director. But it grew on me, to the point where I actually looked forward to it, and it had a significant part in bringing humor to the film. Given the serious nature of the subject matter, the humor was certainly welcome, but if it had been done poorly it would have ruined the movie. But it wasn’t and didn’t—I found the film to blend comedy and drama exceptionally well.

The film seemed to inter-cut different scenes more extensively than most films, and I thought it worked very well. On the other hand, if you notice the editing in any film, maybe it’s a little too extreme. I liked it though.

The film deserves its screenplay nomination. I seem to get a feeling partway through a well-written film that everything just fits right, and I got that feeling here.

Finally, there’s the acting, which generated two of the film’s three nominations. I would have to say that even though I loved the film, the acting didn’t seem quite as good as the nominations would indicate. Does Kate Winslet deserve her nomination? I’m not sure, although she does manage to convince you that she feels unattractive, which is quite a feat for her (some have complained that the part should have been played by a less attractive actress).

I give it 4 stars out of 4.

Seen 1/31/2007.

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2 Responses to “Little Children”

  1. wontstopbelievin Says:

    Yea, Kate is awesome. I can’t believe she’ll lose the Oscar for the fifth time.

    Also, I think the voiceover is absolutely essential. We are supposed to get the feeling that we’re outsiders looking in on these silly silly people, like they are ants in their farm. The omniscient narrator certainly helps with that.

  2. David Schleicher Says:

    Hmmm…interesting…I will definately have to check this out on DVD. I hated…and I MEAN HATED…In the Bedroom…so Todd Field is really going to have to WOW me to win me over with this…but your review is insightful…I will have to give this a chance without my prejudice.

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