(2006) dir. Todd Fields
Having liked Todd Fields’ In the Bedroom (2001), I was actually kind of anticipating Little Children when it came out and wasn’t surprised that it had a good buzz. A good cast including Kate Winslet and Jennifer Connelly head this family melodrama/comedy/what-have-you and some more Oscar nods too.
However, the film didn’t really work so well for me.
It starts with this omniscient, deep-voiced narrator, with a detached, though knowledgeable insight into the characters’ feelings and histories, which seems to draw from the voice of the book from which this content was adapted. It’s an intrusive and non-cinematic aspect of the film that relates things in and out of the regularly played narrative portrayal of the storylines. Right from the get-go, I was not in step with the film, and though I eventually got into it a bit more, I never connected.
The characters are all somewhat damaged suburbanites with “little children”. This should, more or less, be something, or an aspect of the world to which I should be able to identify. And at first, I thought that the film would strike some strange and uncomfortable recognitions. The world of young parents: book clubs, hanging with people who have kids the same age as yours but nothing else in common, the dissociation from ones prior life, the breakdown of intimacy within a married relationship as the child takes the fore,…there is a lot. Just looking at sippy cups and having to carry “snacks” to every outing. This stuff could have had more resonance for me. It didn’t.
The movie isn’t awful by any means. I think as it stretches out into the analysis of the sex offender and his situation in society and his relationship with his mother…there are things there that could have been more interesting, but also end up being a little too hot-button-ish. The film always stays on this somewhat detached, ironic and critical attitude towards suburbia and the loss of self in this world.
Yeah, I wouldn’t really bother with this unless you have “little children” and feel like you might identify more than I did.