Some little girls can be murder! Thirteen-year-old Rynn (Foster) is a gifted prodigy who lives in a big old house with her reclusive father...all alone. Or does she? When Rynn's nosy landlady and a lecherous neighbor (Shee... more »n) begin to susupect that this little girl is hiding a dark and dangerous secret, Rynn is determined to preserve her isolated existence at any cost - and stop those vicious rumors dead in their tracks!« less
"The Little Girl Who Lives Down the Lane (Nicolas Geesner, 1976)
I find myself more willing to forgive a film for not sticking to its literary roots when I've seen the film first, and such is the case with The Little Girl Who Lives Down the Lane. It's hard to believe it's been almost thirty years since I first saw this film, but it is; when I rented it last weekend on a nostalgia trip, I found that it's lost none of its brilliance over time.
Much of that has to do with the performances of the two principals, Jodie Foster (fresh off her success in Taxi Driver) and Martin Sheen (three years after Badlands, three years before Apocalypse Now). Foster plays a thirteen-year-old girl menaced by pedophile Sheen, but takes care of herself quite nicely in that regard (in fact, Foster's character here might have been the poster-child for what is known today as empowerment). There's a subplot going on about Foster's mysterious father, whom no one ever sees, and a related coming-of-age one about her falling in love with the nephew of a member of the local constabulary. All of it is handled quite nicely, and while things are rushed, they're done as well as they can be; chalk it up to Laird Koenig adapting his own novel for the screen. It's almost enough to forgive the large gaps those who have read the book will notice, and Gessner's almost amateurish handling of the passage of time (it seems almost as if Foster and the nephew, played by Diary of Anne Frank/Return to Horror High star Scott Jacoby, go from wary acquaintances to lovers overnight, since Jacoby does nothing to show the passage of weeks except add snow to the scene; he must not have ever lived in Cleveland, where snow on Halloween may be uncommon, but does happen now and then).
Highly underrated atmospheric suspense. A must-see for Jodie Foster fans. ****"
"None of your little tricks...."
Clare Quilty | a little pad in hawaii | 10/23/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"What a bizarre and frequently astonishing little thriller this is.
Unlike a lot of the reviewers here, I'd never seen this before. But I do know a lot of people who had seen it on TV growing up and their enthusiasm made me curious.
Now I understand. Though sometimes tonally uneven, this is a captivating little puzzler that somehow combines elements of 70s afterschool specials, Roald Dahl, Poe, low-budget horror and a single-set stage play... with apparent nods to Pinter and Orton.
A young Jodie Foster (at roughly the same age as when she played Iris in "Taxi Driver") stars as a teenaged girl attempting to conceal from the world that she's an orphan living alone. Her obvious intelligence and uncanny maturity shield her nicely from most adults (she loves Emily Dickinson and Chopin and is teaching herself Hebrew) but then she's set upon by a pushy, presumptuous landlady and by the landlady's lecherous son, a turtleneck-clad mama's boy played by a stark Martin Sheen (not long after he made "Badlands").
What happens next needs to be seen with as little advance knowledge as possible. And though the dialogue and music sometimes shift into melodrama ("Don't ever leave," the 13-year-old girl tells her new boyfriend, an amateur magician), the shifts almost seem intentional, a means of making the twists that much more surprising and unsettling.
This is a strange and cool little movie, a true underseen sleeper, occasionally quite shocking and a perfect example of a film that arrived far, far ahead of its time."
Hiding In Plain Sight...
Bindy Sue Frønkünschtein | under the rubble | 10/10/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I have waited about 25 years to see this movie again! Finally, it is on DVD where it belongs! This is my favorite Jodie Foster flick (yep, I even like it better than Silence Of The Lambs) as well as my favorite movie from the 70s. As Rynn, Ms. Foster is perfect! She was 13 (as was her character), going on 27, and comes across as cool, controlled, and mysterious. Living in her leased house, Rynn must use her smarts in order to survive and avoid discovery. Is her father alive? What's the real story about her mother? Will that nasty / nosey Mrs. Hallet (Alexis Smith) ever leave Rynn in peace? Will Hallet's disgusting and dangerous son (Martin Sheen) go too far? Will Mario (Scott "Bad Ronald" Jacoby) be able to help Rynn in her ruse? And what about officer Miglioriti? Will his suspicions unravel Rynn's carefully constructed life? And just what is down in that cellar anyway? TLGWLDTL is a twisty little mystery / thriller showcasing Jodie Foster's natural acting ability. She's so adult it's scary! I love some of Rynn's comments on public school (she's never set foot in it) for instance. She calls it stultifying. Rynn is a unique kid in a homogenized world. Her conversations with Mario are as enlightening as they are entertaining. I find myself wanting her to make it, even though her doom appears inevitable. Much has been made of her nude scene. It is very brief and I wasn't offended by it. The sexuality between Rynn and Mario is more implied than explicit or graphic. I had a harder time with the infamous hamster scene! Of course, this helps to define Sheen's character as a thoroughly repugnant human being. He is driven to have Rynn at all cost. Watching his increasingly obsessive / violent behavior toward her is disturbing and (sadly) familiar. He's just like the predators that fill our current papers and news programs. Enough about him! All Jodie fans must add this one to their DVD shelf!..."
William Bucko | Mt. Clemens, MI United States | 10/26/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
""Incredible suspense!" promised the ad, when this movie first appeared on TV back in 1979. I tuned in, not knowing what to expect. It certainly boasted a stellar cast: 13 year old Jodie Foster, Martin Sheen, Scott Jacoby, and Alexis Smith.
It's the only movie that ever made me scream.
For almost an hour it kept me guessing. I thought it might turn out to be a monster-in-the-basement flick. It proved to be something totally different.
Young Rynn is living in an isolated house on Long Island with her father, famous poet Lester Jacobs. Only nobody's seen her father for months. And something--or someone--is in the basement. Something Rynn desperately wants to conceal.
But her secret does come out--with fatal consequences.
This is the story of a loner who, facing cataclysmic events, finally learns to reach out to the one who befriends her: Mario, a young amateur magician.
"I'm not going to play their game," she insists.
"Well, you've got to trust somebody," Mario replies.
But in trusting him, Rynn places his life in danger. She has to confront the final threat alone--as the trap door to the cellar creaks open. It's that scene that made me scream--begging her to run to the kitchen and grab a knife!
She doesn't ... facing the final menace armed only with her wits.
This is great drama--a harrowing story of individualism, courage, and trust. (And it's better than the novel by screenwriter Laird Koenig it's based on.) Beautifully acted. Beautifully filmed. With a haunting score by Christian Gaubert. Don't miss it!
Try This "Little Girl" As A Character Study, Not Horror
K. Harris | Las Vegas, NV | 09/25/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This movie is a bit of a curiosity. I'm not surprised that people picking up the DVD expecting to see a horror movie are a little disappointed. Yet, with the provocative product description one might, at least, expect a thriller. This is how the movie was sold in its day and how it continues to be sold. For me, "The Little Girl Who Lives Down The Lane" has always been an interesting character study--but one with a decidedly creepy edge.
The film may seem a little dated to modern audiences, but that's to be expected. Upon my most recent viewing, I was completely put off at how many times someone barged right into the house! And Martin Sheen was so recognizably villainous from his first moment on screen--I wouldn't have minded some shading behind the character, something less obvious.
But, as everyone can agree, the film belongs to Jodie Foster. Cool and intelligent, resourceful and belligerent--it is a masterful performance. But I guess that's to be expected, this was the same year Foster was Oscar nominated for "Taxi Driver". One of Foster's chief assets, and it remains true to this day, is that she always just seems so much smarter than anyone else around her.
I admire "Little Girl" for just this reason. It is a progressive look at a young girl who is wise and adult beyond her years. She is allowed to be unsympathetic, she is allowed to be sexual, she is allowed to be independent. WOW! Imagine having written a role that doesn't condescend. Today, actresses don't mature on screen until their thirties (usually). This film has the audacity and bravery to respect it's lead character (who is 13) and let the viewer make up it's own mind about her. I'm sure that if this film were remade with today's standards, it would not be as morally ambiguous. And it's that haunting uncertainty, that lack of obviousness, and the utter freedom as the viewer to either embrace or condemn this "Little Girl" that has made this a mini-masterpiece. KGHarris, 9/06."