Little Children, adapted from Andre Dubus' short story, is a movie that starts intriguingly then heads into some seriously dark territory. What actually felt more like a play to me because it was so passive and restrained, however, showcases some amazing talent.
Sarah (Kate Winslet) is a housewife and mom trapped in suburbia. When she meets with other moms at the park and a lone father and his child shows up, he's just the candy Sarah needs to lure her out of monotony.
Patrick Wilson and Kate Winslow
During girl talk her friends bet Sarah she can't get his phone number. She gets more than that when she and Brad (Patrick Wilson) smooch. Of course the girls don’t know that Sarah leveled with Brad about the bet. Too late, both of them feel more than expected and soon they're nestled in a nice little hot affair.
While they're partners are hustling up the pay checks, Sarah and Brad are lounging it up at the pool and park with the kids, and wishing their lofty goals of careers had taken off. This was one thing about the film that bothered me. This takes place in a smaller town and even if the kids didn't raise questions in front of their other parent, wouldn't Sarah's friends or other neighborhood people notice this strange relationship?
Kate Winslet and Patrick Wilson
Someone too busy with his own life isn't noticing Sarah and Brad. Ronnie J. McGorvey (Jackie Earle Haley) is a recently released child molester, overly protected and argumentative with his mother May (Phyllis Somerville). This plot plays out along side of the adulterous affair, and while it's really distasteful, you have to admire both Somerville (Lucky You) and Haley for their incredible performances. Haley (All the Kings Men) received an Academy-Award nomination for Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in the film. Winslet (The Holiday), quite sincere in her character, was nominated for Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role, and writers Todd Field and Tom Perrotta were nominated for their adapted screenplay.
In addition to the dark undertones, the fact that much of the movie is done with a narrator, made me think again of this as a play. The revelations by Sarah feel sincere while Brad's made me think, "what?" At least with the DVD you can fast-forward through some of the slower, more tedious moments.
If you're a fan of any of these cast members, then you will probably want to take a look at Little Children. Unfortunately, the DVD has no bonus features.
Photo credits: New Line Cinema