our film reviews: from armchair viewing to the festival front row

27 October 2006

[Reel-Reviews] Little Children (4 stars)

This film brilliantly portrays life below the outer masks of outward normality.

The world of this Boston suburb portrays a certain version of 'normal life'. Brad (Patrick Wilson) and Sarah (Kate Winslet) shake up their worlds and their families through an intense affair over six months. In parallel the whole community is shaken by a sex offender (played by Jackie Earle Haley) returning to a community, or perhaps we are more shaken by their reaction to him.

The story and the various relationships are told through a series of seemingly innocent yet profound objects:

- A jester's hat: makes a dad feel second best to mum
- A thong: divides a husband and wife (as well as providing the best comic moment in the film)
- A red swim suit: arouses a summer affair
- A portrait of wife and husband: depicts a husband overshaddowed by a wife
- A pair of shoes: represents a son's loss
- A kitchen knife: brings abuser and abused together in an unlikely setting

The film is not unlike American Beauty for it's look at the underside of life. It talks of holding on too tightly to objects, dreams, and ambitions from the past but also of being too easily distracted by new glittery ones. Meanwhile the relationships of here and now drift by untended and unloved.

A magnificent film but didn't wholly transport me to another world, hence 4*.

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