Little Children (15)



Drama (2006)
136mins US

Starring: Kate Winslet, Patrick Wilson, Jennifer Connelly
Director: Todd Field
Writer(s): Todd Field, Tom Perrotta
Listings: London | Rest of UK and Ireland

During a trip to the local playground with her daughter, Sarah Pierce meets married man Brad Adamson and his young son. A chance kiss between the two parents sparks a tempestuous affair behind the backs of his emotionally cold wife Kathy and her disinterested husband Richard. When Kathy begins to suspect her husband's infidelity, the adulterers are compelled to face the repercussions of their actions.

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LondonNet Film Review

Little Children
Based on the novel by Tom Perrotta, Little Children paints a beautifully detailed portrait of fear and self-loathing in American suburbia...

Kate Winslet and Patrick Wilson in Little Children. Film released by: Entertainment Films.Perrotta and writer-director Todd Field masterfully adapt the book for the screen, shining a light into the darkest recesses of the human soul: desire, obsession, jealousy, retribution.

Certain narrative threads have been dropped between page and screen, forcing us to make emotional connections with the characters, often without fully understanding the motives for their behaviour. The effect is both disorienting and utterly engrossing; our sympathies ebb and flow as good people make drastic choices to achieve their selfish dreams and the threat of violence hangs heavily in the air.

Director Field demonstrates even greater mastery of narrative pacing and subtle shifts in emotion than in his breathtaking debut feature, In The Bedroom. He effortlessly glides between the entwined plot strands, drawing together his disparate menagerie of wounded characters for a denouement that forcibly squeezes the very breath out of you.

Little Children's power resonates from its refusal to make sweeping moral judgments. Consequently, we see the tiniest flecks of humanity and vulnerability in seemingly the most despicable figures, like a paedophile, whose horrific past misdeeds are never revealed on screen.

Kate Winslet continues to affirm her reputation as one of the finest performers of her generation. The only actress to date to receive four Oscar nominations before her 30th birthday, Winslet should be one of next year's five hopefuls for her stunning portrayal here of a lonely wife, clinging forlornly onto the one glimmer of a hopeful future.

During a trip to the local playground with her daughter Lucy (Sadie Goldstein), Sarah Pierce (Winslet) meets married man Brad Adamson (Patrick Wilson) and his young son Aaron (Ty Simpkins). A chance kiss between the two parents sparks a tempestuous affair behind the backs of his emotionally cold filmmaker wife Kathy (Jennifer Connelly) and her disinterested businessman husband Richard (Gregg Edelmann).

When Kathy begins to suspect her husband's infidelity, the adulterers are compelled to face the repercussions of their actions. Their fates become linked with a paedophile, Ronnie J McGorvey (Jackie Earle Haley), who has been released back into the community to live with his doting elderly mother May (Phyllis Somerville), but is being hounded out of town by terrified parents.

Ringleader of the protesters is unemployed ex-cop Larry (Noah Emmerich) who stalks the McGorvey home night and day, who readily confesses that "if I had a job, I wouldn't be driving past this house five or six times a day".

Little Children is a film of unsettling surprises and extraordinary catharsis. Field conjures some truly unforgettable scenes like parents screaming for their children to get out of the local swimming pool when they spot Ronnie in the water, or the sex offender's ill-fated date with Sheila (Jane Adams).

Performances are exemplary across the board, fired by terrific dialogue. "Richard does all right for himself," remarks Sarah. "What does he do again?" asks Brad. "Lies," she retorts. Spoken like a true hypocrite.

- Heather Von Bourne


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