Kate Winslet, Jennifer Connelly and Patrick Wilson star in the Academy Award nominated film Little Children, the latest work from Oscar-nominated writer/director Todd Field. Based on the novel by Tom Perrotta, Little Child... more »ren centers on a handful of middle-class suburban parents whose lives unravel in the wake of an adulterous affair.« less
Sharon C. (Sierrastar) from BLYTHEWOOD, SC Reviewed on 9/13/2011...
This is definitly not a movie for children. It had some parts that I wasn't all that happy to view but it all played into the characters lives and why they did lived that way. Infidelity in a marriage hurts way too many people.
2 of 3 member(s) found this review helpful.
Suzanne B. Reviewed on 3/23/2011...
Disturbing film and a sociological sketch of suburban discontent. Kate Winslet is perfectly cast as a lonely married mother desperate to hold on to her sense of self. Jackie Earle Haley is outstanding as the deeply conflicted registered sex offender who must battle both his neighbors and his own lack of self control. Jennifer Connelly is stunning in her icy portrayal of a beautiful, but controlling wife. Although a tad uneven, the drama had me transfixed.
4 of 4 member(s) found this review helpful.
Julie A. Reviewed on 12/10/2007...
**SPOILER** **Blunt language used in review**
Sorry, but I found this to be just another movie about suburban parents disallusioned with their lives and turning to sex with another disallusioned neighbor for a respite. Where's the originality? One husband is jacking off while looking at a hotty online. One wife is too engrossed in work. There's the requisite problem neighbor and gossiping housewives. Toss in the appropriate amount of guilt to make you feel slightly ok with what these folks are doing, and there you have it. I guess the shots of Patrick Wilson's ass and Kate Winslet's boobs are to keep you hanging around. The characters are flat and shallow, except the convicted child molestor. He's yucky and creepy, which means he's a good actor.
7 of 14 member(s) found this review helpful.
Save the Children
MICHAEL ACUNA | Southern California United States | 10/11/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
""Little Children" is a perfect movie: intelligently directed, lavishly produced, beautifully photographed, gloriously acted, intricately plotted and logically put together. Director Todd Field's first film, "In the Bedroom" (based on a story by Andre Dubus) was also effective, moving, and brutal: a kitchen sink drama about a murder, the families involved with that murder and the repercussions involved therein. In "Little Children," Fields has ratcheted up the living circumstances to upstate, suburban Massachusetts: plain jane, Sarah Pierce (Kate Winslet) unhappily married to a porno -obsessed, mostly absent husband, the drop dead gorgeous couple of Kathy and Brad Anderson (Patrick Wilson and for once not playing a victim, the luminous Jennifer Connolly) who have reached an impasse in their marriage as Kathy is it's sole provider and Brad is conflicted about taking the Law Bar exam for the third time. Thrown into this mix is a recently released from jail for exposing himself to a child, Ronald McGorvey (Jackie Earle Haley) and his loving, doting Mother (Phyllis Somerville). Sarah and Brad, both with their children, meet in a park one day: attraction is inevitable though neither is the other ones "type." That said, what they do fill for each other are those voids that tend to get bigger and deeper as we grow older, grow more disappointed with our lives and realize that our dreams will probably not come true. Fairy-tale romance this one? Hardly. Fields is too much the realist, his psyche and artistic intuition too much about the realities of contemporary life to go that route and Winslet and Wilson give Sarah and Brad their all: vulnerable, romantic, crazy-in-lust even but again always looking over their shoulders for that "thing" that will break them up. Their sex scenes are filmed with this kind of tension and though they make love in private, they may as well be outdoors on a busy street because, though they are definitely into it...both have one eye open...waiting for the door to open, waiting to be discovered, caught, unveiled. Though there is a lot of sex and violence here, there is really not much love except that between the "sex criminal" Ronald and his Mother. Ronald's Mom loves him without reservation though she is more than aware of his shortcomings. She even goes so far as to arrange a computer date for him as "you need to meet a nice girl, Ronald." What ensues is inevitable and funny/sad. Jennifer Connelly plays Kathy as an icy-cold *itch, seemingly in control, career-minded, needing Brad to step up to the plate financially and professionally but at the same time needing him to be adrift, lost, emotionally wounded so that she can despise and pity him, be her whipping boy, her child yet her husband. In many ways, Kathy needs Brad to fail so that she can feel superior, to have a vessel into which she can pour her bile. When Connolly intuits the affair between Brad and Sarah at a dinner at her home, she does it with barely a nod of her head and a deep, burning flick of her beautiful eyes: you actually feel her eyes gouging a hole into you as you watch. "Little Children" is about just that...but not the chronologically appropriate ones. It's about supposed adults who carry on without thinking like adults, without weighing or really caring about the consequences of their actions. And like Ang Lee's masterful "Ice Storm," "Little Children" is psychically set in a place in which we must tread very carefully always aware that what he is saying here might just apply to our very own lives. "
A.Rand | NYC | 05/03/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"There is a bucolic, brief scene of restless suburbanite Sarah (Kate Winslet) sitting peacefully under a tree, reading, in Little Children. Her daughter Lucy plays happily nearby as the leaves rustle and the birds chirp. Everything is bathed in perfect light. All of the elements--the camera, the performers, nature, etc.--conspire to make an invigorating, warm shot.
This single scene sums up the overall tone for director Todd Field's assured sophomore effort. He chooses this image, which moves, languidly, from a tight full-body shot of the serene actress to a longer, more atmospheric shot. As the first image the viewer sees on the menu page of the DVD. It is an evocative, iconic shot that speaks volumes without any words. It is pure, gorgeous ambiance--something Field is shaping up to be very keen on, and very good at.
A leisurely little movie that pits an acerbic script (by Field and Tom Perrota--who wrote the expansive 350 page novel on which the film is based) with a brilliantly mismatched ensemble, Little Children is a rare contemporary film that is nearly perfect in its execution. Stillness in both mood and pace are just as important to the director as lingering close-ups of his actors' attractive reactions. Field is able to present, believably, a vision of bourgeois suburbia as an almost mythical netherworld. Often, dangerously, the atmosphere here can change on a dime: from playful to sexy to deadly and back again within the same scene.
Sarah is sort of a bad mother. She's a little selfish about her time. She doesn't quite connect to her adorable moppet of a daughter in the way she expected to. The film is unafraid to debunk the stereotypes about settling down and being a "mommy". Sarah would say that it isn't all it's cracked up to be. She left a life of academia behind to marry an older man and take over the pristine, first wife-decorated manse located on a prized plot of land in this snobbish suburban enclave.
The other brittle, embittered young women that hang out at the park with their regimented children treat Sarah to an infuriatingly smug and superior manner every day. Perhaps this is just an obvious sign they are jealous of her, or perhaps they are only talking to her out of pity: Sarah is more than a bit disheveled and doesn't give a flip about appearances, and why should she? Her marriage is pretty much dead and the only person she sees during the day is Lucy. While the other gals are in full hair and make-up, heels, and perfect pressed little dresses, Sarah goes the comfortable route in shapeless overalls.
They recoil in horror as Sarah fumbles futilely for her daughter's non-existent snack; trying desperately to save face in front of the group as they judgingly produce nutritious treats for their perfect "little children" from the bowels of their overly-priced designer bags. They viciously gossip about the neighborhood's newest addition, Ronnie: a convicted sex offender freshly released from prison (the amazing former child actor Jackie Earle Haley).
These scenes at the park (the park is apparently the hub of all socio-political action in the land of the bourgeoisie), in which the humiliating suburban hassle gets inflicted on Sarah relentlessly by this group of harpies stand out, mainly because of the highlighting of the gossipy, demeaning behavior of the bored and unfulfilled yuppie set. These patronizing women are cinematic ice queen cousins to women like Annette Bening's Carolyn Burnham from American Beauty or Mary Tyler Moore's Beth Jarret from Ordinary People: spoiled, repressed, and filled with venom. The displaced Sarah can't relate to their malaise. She believes she is much different from them.
When "the Prom King" (stay-at-home dad Brad, played by Patrick Wilson) starts frequenting the girls' territory with his son, the fearless Sarah decides to shock the other women by actually speaking to the handsome father. Turns out Brad's life is not as dreamy as he'd like it to be: even though he is married to the outrageously beautiful documentary filmmaker Kathy (the outrageously beautiful Jennifer Connelly), with whom he has a son, Aaron; Brad has failed the bar exam twice and would rather sit and watch teenage boys skateboarding than study for his third and final attempt at the test.
Fallen cop turned vigilante Larry (the fierce Noah Emmerich) ropes Brad into a secret league of brutish nighttime football players, in addition to forcing him to aid in the neighborhood crusade against Ronnie, who is still a mere specter in the film at this point; he's just whispered hatefully about.
Brad longs to re-capture his macho youth. His fire, it seems, was snuffed out by settling down in the suburbs. Taking over a traditionally female role, as Kathy becomes the family's breadwinner, Brad becomes just another version of a bored suburban housewife himself. Little Children seems to say that only stupid people are content with that sort of existence. Brad and Sarah are both very educated people; so naturally, they begin to gravitate towards one another. Eventually, they embark on a dangerous, erotic affair, complete with some raw, realistic sex scenes between the two brave actors.
Forty-five minutes into the film, as Brad and Sarah begin to flaunt their tawdriness all over town, the character of Ronnie makes his appearance into the film, looking every bit the creepy boogie man pedophile that every parent has nightmares about. He is pale and sickly looking, almost transparent; curiously, he resembles bloodsucker Max Shreck in Nosferatu.
The far-from discrete Brad and Sarah have a standing date to meet every day at the community pool. On a bright, hot day when all of the kids and parents are cooling off in the pool, the ridiculously-attired Ronnie (complete with goggles and flippers), struts foolishly into the swimming pool and the camera dives disturbingly down into the water with him, as he creepily, secretly watches the kids moving in slow motion underwater.
It is only a matter of time before he is spotted by the frantic mob of parents; who resemble the villagers who chase after the monster in Frankenstein with torches and a pack of rabid zombies. They openly display the kind of cruelty that leads to trouble. It's also only a matter of time before Ronnie is the only one left in the pool. The police arrive within what seems like seconds to take the sex offender away from the kids.
What unfolds in the film's second half is a complex, meditative drama that offers some biting insights on the art routine. The film deftly explores the everyday perversions of those who we think are the most normal (Winslet catching her cuckolded, mysterious husband masturbating in his home office is one of the funniest, most awkward scenes in a recent film). Despite the undercurrent of genuinely funny cynicism running through its acid narration, Little Children still remains a true tragedy at heart; and a tightly-wound, emotionally suspenseful one at that.
At its core, the film is about mothers and their deep, formative bonds with their children. Sarah is jealous of the super-mommy gang, but she doesn't really want to put much effort into her relationship with Lucy; she's more interested in escaping her duties into her fantasy world with Brad. Ronnie lives with his fiercely devoted, frail mother May (a scene-stealing Phyllis Somerville); a tough old neighborhood stalwart who believes her son to be innocent as she excitedly sets up a personal ad date for him. Aaron is constantly wearing a jester's cap around Brad, but takes it off as soon as his beloved mom Kathy gets home from work.
Each mother in Little Children is able to put a fresh spin on the theme of things not turning out quite the way one might have pictured, and each finds a way of coping and soldiering on. Tough senior citizen May is forced to physically defend her adult son from bullies in her own home, while Kathy is quietly more enamored of her job and son than she is of her clearly depressed husband. Sarah turns out to be almost as sad as the rest of them: she cruelly ignores her daughter to imagine a life with Brad. As the film builds to a breathtaking climax, she is seen in the dark park, late at night, alone with Lucy; waiting for a romantic getaway that is never going to happen.
Winslet's skillful handling of these almost wordless scenes is masterful in what she is able to convey through her eyes: Sarah is going to be abruptly thrown right back into her boring old routine come early morning, like all that transpired before had never happened. It is a vague ending (complete with one shocking Shakespearean-level catharsis), and Field leaves a lot of hanging plots' resolutions up to his viewers; who should easily be able to put the pieces together thanks to the cast's lived-in, seamless performances and Field & Perrota's lean, eloquent script.
Following the success of 2001's critical darling In the Bedroom, Field proves again that he has a gift for capturing, strikingly, the complexities of small town melancholy. Little Children also demonstrates his clear gift and affinity for the art of guiding his actors to giving gloriously quiet, devastating performances. Sissy Space, Marisa Tomei, and Tom Wilkinson were all rewarded with Oscar nominations for their work in In the Bedroom; while Haley and Winslet were nominated for their work here--Winslet earning her fifth career nomination.
From the smallest supporting role, to the powerhouse leads, Field imbues each character with soul and flavor; as he does with every other technical detail of the film. His eye for the minutiae of the everyday is impeccable."
Do you feel bad about this?
Westley | Stuck in my head | 03/15/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Kate Winslet stars in "Little Children" as Sarah, a bored housewife and mother. She spends her days enduring miserable playground playdates with the neighborhood mothers. She's the designated ditzy mother, who forgets to bring her daughter's snack and even fails to bond with her child. At one point, she compares herself to an anthropologist studying a foreign culture, so alienated is she from her fellow mothers. Into this morass stumbles Patrick Wilson playing Brad, the only stay-at-home father in the neighborhood. The women are fascinated by Brad and quickly nickname him "The Prom King." However, despite their fantasies about Brad, they're petrified to actually admit this handsome young father into their group. One day, Sarah does precisely that.
The movie is ultimately about isolation, which is even more strongly seen in a subplot concerning Jackie Earle Haley. His character returns home following a conviction for exposing himself to a child. The townspeople react to him with predictable venom, even as their own misdeeds unfold before our eyes. This moral ambiguity permeates every frame of "Little Children," turning a good drama into something more transcendent - something much more akin to real life. Indeed, characters go from likeable to pathetic and back again within a blink of an eye, all lead by the brilliant acting of Winslet.
Todd Field's follow-up to 2001's "In the Bedroom" is masterfully directed. Fortunately, "Little Children" manages to avoid the melodrama that marred his earlier effort. The Oscar nominated screenplay by Todd Field and Tom Perrotta is based on Perrotta's novel of the same name. The script doesn't always flow perfectly, with frequent jumps between subplots and sometimes jarring changes in tone. However, the plot avoids predictability, with just a few missteps toward the end. All in all, "Little Children" is a first-rate drama - the kind that will stick with you long after the denouement. "
Great flick, but read the book too
Gregory Baird | New York, NY | 06/05/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
""Little Children," directed by Todd Field (who also scored with the 2001 film In the Bedroom), is a spectacular adaptation of the Tom Perrotta novel from which it is derived. Field and Perrotta, who co-wrote the screenplay, captured the essence of the book and made it sparkle on the screen. It focuses on Brad and Sarah, two unhappily married people who feel that their lives have been waylaid by parenthood. Brad was a college athlete bound for a career as an attorney when his beautiful wife's work as a director of documentaries took off, they had a son, and Brad became seemingly incapable of passing the bar exam (his wife, by the way, is played by Jennifer Connelly, who does quite a lot with a relatively small amount of screen time). He doesn't really mind being cast as Mr. Mom, seeing as his greater ambitions seem to have gone up in smoke, but he does feel uncomfortable around the moms populating the playground and town pool -- who have dubbed him "the prom king" because of his good looks. That all changes when he meets kindred spirit Sarah (the exquisitely natural Kate Winslet, who earned an Oscar nom for her deeply layered and precise performance), who had been on her way to a PhD in literature until marriage and motherhood got in the way. Now her already shaky marriage is on the rocks thanks to her husband's curious use of 'office time' (I won't spoil the surprise), and she and Brad jump at the opportunity to throw it all away by starting a passionate affair while their children nap during playdates. The title, you see, refers to the adults in this story as much as the children that have appeared in their lives. "Little Children" is filled with characters in a state of arrested development -- either unable or unwilling to grow up and face the real life of bills, chores, snack times, diapers, and such that they find themselves consumed by.
Add into this mix the subplot involving a registered sex offender (played by the film's other Academy Award nominee, Jackie Earle Haley) who moves to town after getting sprung from prison and you've got a stellar, complicated movie going. The tone is comedic and dramatic, optimistic and heartbreaking, relatable yet disturbing -- a dangerous high wire act, to be sure, but one that Field and the stellar cast navigate with the greatest of ease. And Field knows how to use symbolism very well: the subtle sound of trains inexorably chugging away in the background of the film's beginning scenes, growing louder and more ominous as the plotlines converge and begin to 'derail', the screaming sound of insects in another key scene, cracks at the bottom of a swimming pool ... he really has an eye for the tiny details you almost don't notice. His one misstep? The narration of the film is too obvious in an otherwise subtle, genius film. Field's staging hints at the themes too well to have them explained to us, and the actors do such a great job conveying their character's inner desires that we don't need to have someone tell us that information. A scene in which Brad triumphantly charges toward the end zone during a football game is so overdone with narration and cheesy music that it's actually groan-inducing. I think that Field was trying to be cheesy in that moment, but he succeeded a little too well at it. The special features are also non-existant, which is a disappointment. But at any rate, it is a spectacular flick, and I would highly recommend it.
But be sure to pick up the book, Little Children: A Novel as well. With more elbow room than a film's inevitable demands on running time can allow, Perrotta really gets at a host of other characters and ideas that are minor in the movie. In the novel we get to go home with Mary Anne, the Stepford wife of the playground, and find out why she adheres to such a rigorous schedule. And in Brad's wife we discover a vindictive competitiveness that comes out when she suspects that her husband is straying. These golden touches and more can be found only in the novel, so be sure to snap up a copy post haste."
The Best Film of 2006
Joshua Miller | Coeur d'Alene,ID | 05/04/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Little Children opened and received some of the best reviews of the year. Problem was, it had little press and a limited theatrical release. The 3 Academy Award nominations it received, it probably received more from word of mouth than anything. Anyway, the poster of the film intrigued me and prompted me to read the book a few months ago. Since then, I have been aching to see the film. Now, my dream has come true and I've seen it and I think it's the best film of 2006. Not only does it work purely as a film, but it's also the epitome of a great literary adaptation. It does what all the great literary adaptations have done; changed little, added less. The screenplay is by the writer of the novel, Tom Perrotta and the director of the film, Todd Field...I think this proves that maybe the novelist is best suited to adapt his own work.
The film takes place in an anonymous suburb, deep in the heart of suburbia. Kate Winslet plays Sarah, a young wife and mother who has no idea what she's doing in the lifestyle that she is now in. Her day consists of taking her daughter Lucy to the park and listening to the boring chitchat of her fellow mothers. That's until she sees The Prom King (Patrick Wilson), whose real name is Brad, the stay-at-home-dad that brings his son to the park and is the object of every playground mother's affection. When the mothers bet Sarah five bucks to get his phone number, she winds up with a kiss instead...This kiss spirals into a full-on affair. Meanwhile, a convicted sex offender has moved into the neighborhood in the form of Ronnie J. McGorvey (Jackie Earle Haley) and is the victim of harassment at the hands of Larry (Noah Emmerich, whose brother is pretty high up at New Line Cinema), the head of the committee of concerned parents. Jennifer Connelly plays Kathy, Brad's wife who (he openly admits) his much more beautiful than Sarah. The movie is a straight- forward drama, but is very much a satire of suburban America that rings very true.
The best part of the film is the sub-plot involving Ronnie McGorvey and you realize that, in many cases, the offender often becomes the victim. As you probably know, the favorite to win the Best Supporting Actor Oscar was Eddie Murphy but it (very) unexpectedly went to Alan Arkin. The Academy made a big mistake! Jackie Earle Haley delivered the best supporting performance of 2006 and has a truly great comeback story. This is a character that's hard to like. No matter what the crime was, no one likes a sex offender...This film really shows how unfair the treatment of them can be and Haley portrays McGorvey in a way I don't think anyone else can. The first scene he appears in and his first lines in the film ("I was only trying to cool off") are truly haunting and effective. Kate Winslet is also inspired casting.
I've read two novels by Perrotta (the other was also made into a film, 'Election') and he has no problem exposing the imperfections of his characters. "Election" ignored that aspect, "Little Children" doesn't. An actress like Angelina Jolie or Cameron Diaz would not have been able to make this character believable. The film is really just an amazing piece of work. During the entire film I kept wondering if they kept the ending from the novel. The novel ends abruptly and I didn't think it would be realistic on film. The film also ends rather abruptly and, yes; they did change the ending. In doing so, they gave a much more poignant and MUCH MORE haunting ending that is very shocking. When reading the book I noticed many instances where I thought to myself 'no way this is in the movie' and much to my surprise and enjoyment, much of it is! 90% of the book is in the movie. The only things they dropped (that are incredibly noticeable) were a sub-plot involving a past crime of McGorvey's and Sarah's husband's escapade with his obsession. It's a toss up for me trying to decide if the film is better than the book, but on a whim I want to say yes.
This is a great film; A poignant, powerful, haunting, sometimes funny film. It's absolutely brilliant and the finest piece of filmmaking to come out of 2006.