Tuesday, November 14, 2006


Todd Field's Little Children (2006) uses the controversial release of a notorious sex offender (played to creepy effect by former Bad News Bear Jackie Earle Haley) into an affluent Boston village as a conduit to explore the sexual mores and hypocrisies of the superficially staid members of the community. Against the backdrop of low-level suburban dread, frustrated author Kate Winslet (still looking good naked, film flesh fact fans) has an affair with a vacuous hunk househusband (Patrick Wilson, suitably buff and, um, vacuous) whose slacker tendencies leave him feeling emasculated by his knockout film director wife (Jennifer Connelly, as stunning and underused as ever). Can the lovers make a go of it and escape their self-made traps, and will the pervert's mum succeed in rehabilitating him before the village vigilantes drive him to reoffend?

Based on the Tom Perotta novel, Little Children seems to want to be American Beauty so hard it hurts - the deadpan narrative; the anti-hero who retreats from a belittling marriage by fetishising his carefree adolescence and the 'inclusive' treatment of various sexual aberrations. Yet while the acting and production values match up, and the plot touches on topical and pertinent themes, the film is fatally floored by a lack of coherent viewpoint. Awash with blah liberal sentiments ('every life is a miracle'; 'the past is history, but the future's another story'), the film confounds its own logic with reactionary resolutions to its two main story threads, in a dismal denouement that's sure to leave many viewers as dissatisfied as the story's protagonists.


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