Throw Back Thursday – “Little Children”
Written by: Todd Field and Tom Perrotta (based on the novel by Tom Perratta)
Directed by: Todd Field
Starring: Patrick Wilson, Kate Winslet, Jennifer Connelly, and Jackie Earle Haley
In the incredibly under-appreciated “Little Children”, writer/ director Todd Field Weaves a masterfully tangled web of American society at it’s worst. He turns a microscope onto a middle American suburb, and the hypocritical, self-righteous people who live there. All of them trying to go about acting as if they have perfect lives, while looking down their nose at everyone around them. All the while, seemingly none of them realize they are all suffering very similar tragedies.
Right from the beginning the viewer is granted a glimpse at the life of each despicable character. Each one has an addiction or character flaw that has their respective life spiraling into a pit of despair. You have Ronnie (Jackie Earle Haley) as the sad, lonely pedophile who cannot control his urges, and try as he may has no ability to lead a normal life even with the constant watch and loving care of his mother. You have the adulterers Sarah (Winslet) and Brad (Wilson) who although they are in loveless marriages make all of the wrong choices at the expense of everyone around them. You watch as an entire cast of characters do countless bad deeds, and act to themselves and each other as if they are better than everyone else.
Ultimately there are no protagonists in “Little Children”. There is no one you can root for. There is only the truth of Western (especially American) society. There are a bunch of over-privileged, hypocritical, spoiled brats who are just trying to keep it all together, regardless of the cost for themselves or anyone else.
Fields direction is amazing to behold. This is a film with all of the ingredients for a classic: beautiful cinematography, brilliant acting (especially by Winslet and Earle Haley), and a powerful story that hits the mark very accurately (maybe that’s why a lot of people didn’t give the movie a chance). One thing I always look for in a film is it’s ability to make me feel something. Fear, sadness, joy, laughter, I just want the movie to have an emotional impact. In that respect, this movie is one of my all time favorites. I felt not only all of those things, but an overwhelming sense of emotional investment in every character on the screen. THAT… is an ear mark of a quality film. One which I cannot recommend enough.