Reviewed by

Christopher Armstead

Who knew surburbia could be so sordid.  Well, I guess if you watch Desperate Housewives or what not, or you live in surburbia then you already know how it can be behind those white fences and tract homes, but myself having lived in urban areas for the majority of my years, watch movies such as Todd Field's 'Little Children' with the same glossed over awe of a child observing an aquarium full of odd colorful little fishies.

Kate Winslet plays Sarah Pierce, a dissertation away from a never achieved PhD, she languishes in the living hell of suburbia under the judging eyes of natty suburban moms.  She cares for her four year old daughter who doesn't seem to like her mother much and it does seem that her mother views the child as pretty much a dream crushing nuisance anyway.  At the playground one day she meets house dad Brad Adamson (Patrick Wilson) who cares for his son while his pretty wife Kathy (Jennifer Connloy) brings home the bacon as a documentary film maker.  Handsome and a former college football player, he spends his nights watching kids skateboarding wondering where his youth went.  Actually, he's supposed to be studying for the bar exam that he's already failed twice and one he has no intention on taking again.  But whatever will keep his wife’s f’n mouth shut… With their children as conduits, Sarah and Brad strike up a fast friendship that eventually leads to the inevitable... nasty sweaty sex on top of a dryer.  To parallel this to my own life, I've had plenty female friends and my relationships have NEVER devolved, or evolved depending on where you sit, to washroom loving. Sucks for me I suppose.

Frustration abounds in suburbiaville.  Kate's husband is addicted to internet porn, a convicted sex offender has moved back into the neighborhood, everyone's life seem unfulfilled and empty and life generally sucks ass.  Tell me something I don't know already.

Director Todd Field has a knack for creating severe cracks in paradise, similar to his last film, the excellent 'In the Bedroom' with Sissy Spaceck and Tom Wilkinson.  The 'In the Bedroom' facade was one of suburban idyllicness shattered by tragedy.  Here in 'Little Children' the tragedy is unfulfilled lives and the subsequent realization that there's pretty much nothing you can do about it.  Characters have wants and desires and attempt to fill the gaping cracks with destructive behavior which only seem to drive them deeper into their search.  It's very well done, expertly presented and a total downer almost to the point of one asking what IS the point?

This is a difficult film to gage exactly, at least as far as this review goes.  It narrated by an unseen sardonic observer of the environment who is funny and engaging, and the characters actions are logical and meaningful.  It's entertaining to a degree, but did have points where the film tended to drag, and possibly because their world is so foreign to me it was difficult to really care or hang any feelings on any particular character.  Perhaps that was done by design, as it's not 'Raider of the Lost Ark' with a well defined hero figure.  Just a load of tragically confused ones.

In the end what we're left with here is a decent movie that is unique in that is does have something to say.  Whether or not your interested in hearing what is has to say is debatable, but Director Todd Field gets the benefit of my doubt, and seeing this a second time would probably open up even more layers to the story.  As it stands, at least the first time around, 'Little Children' gets a lukewarm recommendation from this reviewer.

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