Journal scribblings: Little Children (2006)

It’s been a pretty busy week, in between work and screenings (those reviews will be up in time), but I had time to watch a film I’d been meaning to for a while.

Perception is a strange thing. I remember when this film got nominated for Oscars and being talked about when I was 11 years old, and I’d had a bunch of ideas about it ever since as a result.

  1. It’s a period piece, and
  2. It was going to be creepy, disgusting, and uncomfortable as hell to watch

The first one turns out to be not true at all. In fact, it’s set in the present day, cell phones, Michael Moore, 2005 model Jeeps and all. The second is partially true. It’s certainly uncomfortable, very much so in the final act, but never feeling creepy. Todd Field’s film in fact reminded me of Sam Mendes’s American Beauty, which I haven’t seen since I was 15, but can’t help feel is now dated in its self-conscious pretension.Another gothic suburban drama with lashings of black comedy that only makes it more unsettling, Little Children subverts where American Beauty has fallen out of favour by understanding the characters instead of alienating them despite being a satire, and a good one at that. The highly light, smooth compositions do indeed make the town feel old-world, a photograph from the 1950s plopped into a less innocent time with a great amount of emotion. The characters ache, feel, and struggle in their privileged yet safe and unfulfilling world. The performers are on this satirical yet depressing wavelength here, totally in tune with the material. Winslet and Wilson have astoundingly electric and utterly convincing chemistry from when they first meet, both individually asking for connection and excitement. Together, they create an excellent portrait of everyday fantasy, almost in a fairytale-like manner, before remembering that reality is a thing that exists. The film is funny, sad, an utterly engrossing observation of desire and relationships in insular environments. I’d even go so far to say it’s underrated.

Rating: 4.5/5


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