Little Children (15)
Time Out says
Thu Oct 19 2006Todd Field’s follow-up to his debut ‘In The Bedroom’, ‘Little Children’ is another literary adaptation about American bourgeois discontent brought to the surface by dark deeds. The setting is the wealthy suburb of East Wyndam, Massachusetts. Kate Winslet is Sarah, frustrated housewife to a little-seen businessman. Patrick Wilson (‘Angels in America’) is perennial law student and stay-at-home dad Brad, whose prom-king looks make him an object of playground fascination for Sarah and the coven of moms with whom she shares afternoon breaks. Neither, it turns out, is best pleased with their lot or ready to entirely relinquish their wellbeing and desires to their children’s. Meanwhile, a sex offender has been released into the gossipy community, where finger-pointing takes precedence over self-examination...
With its unhurried pace and ultra-knowing narration (Sarah’s daughter is described as ‘this unknowable little person’), there’s no missing the film’s origins in co-writer Tom Perrotta’s source novel, with its own explicit nods to ‘Madame Bovary’. Winslet and Wilson make for sympathetically conflicted leads and the first half offers quietly biting observations on over-parenting and under-directed lives, with the amorphous scapegoat of the sex offender making an efficient lightning rod for various anxieties and prejudices. The photography, editing and sound design are intelligent and pointed, too. But the narrative structure is less satisfying, straying from the central dynamic to somewhat laboured subplots before careening back to a melodramatic climax. Less glib than ‘American Beauty’ and less likely to frighten the horses than ‘Happiness’, ‘Little Children’ ultimately seems to display the conformity to convention that so alarms its central characters.
Author: Ben Walters
Fri Nov 3, 2006