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3.6 out of 5 stars
3.6 out of 5 stars
Little Children [DVD]
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on 25 May 2017
This film is an excellent ensemble piece with characters who seem to have it all on the surface but have deep problems with their sexuality. The main spindles of the plot concern three couples: Sarah and Brad, who are married but not to each other, Ronnie and his mother who live together, he having been convicted of child molesting whilst, in the background is Brad's wife,Kathy, a supportive wife and mother who does her best to help her erring hubby to pass his law exams. This latter problem is unlikely to be addressed as he does not go to college preferring to do what he did as a kid which was to hang around. Sarah, who had been to college with a degree in Literature, has a husband who gets his sexual jollies via computer porno; she resents this as she is an attractive woman.

Thus the plots are laid all based on character 'weaknesses' which were engendered by perceived flaws in their partners' behaviour. Madame Bovary, which Sarah is reading with the local book club, she feels mirrors her own dissatisfaction. The heroine is determined to find sexual 'happiness' within or without marriage. Sarah meets up with Brad at the local swimming pool and is immediately attracted to him and, perhaps indecently soon, they end up in her laundry room during a rainstorm . Their various kids fall conveniently asleep upstairs. Madame Bovary is already pressing Sarah's buttons. Meantime, Richard, Sarah's husband is caught pressing his own computer buttons with some peculiar mask over his mouth. What is obvious is that the film presented us with two stronger women whose men have given up on real life, substituting it for fantasy.

During all these extra- marital activities, the story of Ronnie and his protective mother unfolds. She thinks that, if she could find Ronnie a girl of hIs own age, his desire for children would cease. A promising date with a girl who is almost as mixed up as he is goes badly wrong when he reverts to paedophile behaviour in the front seat of his car. He knows what he is and feels that he cannot escape his condition. His was a tragedy exacerbated by Brad's ex-cop friend, Larry, who had been bullying Ronnie with his perverted past. There was some kind of resolution to this near the end whilst the other relationships falter. Sarah and Brad fall at the last hurdle as he tried to relive his past. One cannot do that.

This piece was thoughtfully put together although, perhaps, the plot was rather mechanical. Modern conventions do not accept happier endings and the audience would have that view too. They would feel the revulsion as Ronnie decided to ' cool off' in the pool with his mask and snorkel; he is ejected although he did not do anything untoward. These happy and concerned liberals become like the worst puritans. The film showed life as it is, full of imperfections, full of contradictions falling short of living a good life if the characters knew what a 'good life' was.
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on 8 October 2017
A good film that shows how you can easily lose what matters most if you do not pay attention.
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on 11 May 2017
very good
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on 7 September 2015
Thanks I love the dvd
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on 18 July 2017
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VINE VOICEon 31 October 2009
Tom Perrotta novel Little Children has been adapted for screen. Tom Fields takes to the directors chair for this black comedy which brings us viewers into a world of suburban secrets, sexual paranoia and midlife crisis where damaged self-esteem hangs by a thread and acts of desperation begins to unfold. While the films does provide laughs there are also plenty of shocks with serious factors while the grown-ups try to save their own lives and sense of worth, protection for their own young children will never fail them, as an even bigger fear hangs over a whole community a sex offender is in their mists.

A narrator talks us through the bigger picture letting us know the characters deeper thoughts and feelings and shifting viewpoints. (Kate Winslet) plays Sarah a women with a small daughter, her husband is a marketing executive and also a secret enthusiast of internet porn. Sarah had felt for sometime disenchanted with everything, her life, husband and the uptight small minded moms at the towns playground, she'd fallen into just marking time. Sarah deliberately strikes up a flirtatious friendship with Brad (Patrick Wilson) a stay at home dad known by the other playground moms as Prom King.

Brad is caught up in his own failures of life, hoping to become a lawyer but had so far failed his bar exam twice. His beautiful wife (Jennifer Connelly) had her own career success and he feels inferior just living in her shadow. Uncertain of what he wants Brad keeps his day busy, looking after their young son, he also joins the campaign against the local pedophile. Brad and Sarah friendship has profound disorientation for both; yet it's also their salvation, a curiosity, a fresh excitement, needing each others company just to feel alive!

Strange mix of love and hate going on in this film, the title, Little Children doesn't just refer to the young, instead applies to all ages. All characters show there childlike vulnerability. The pedophile Ronald McGorvey (Jackie Haley) being the prime example portraying him in this film as childlike and living with his mother, trying to bring a sympathetic side to a much-hated character, which was always going to be a tall order for any actor to pull off. But Jackie Haley does put in a powerful performance quite a few haunting scenes like when his lowering himself into the children's shallows of a packed pool with mask and flippers in tow causing complete panic and another scene where his mother sets him up on a dinner date, the results are just halloweeny; creepy and an excruciating embarrassment for all.

Summing up : Great Casting; all performances were strong Kate Winslet marvelous performance in this beautiful shot film. It ticks over nicely scene by scene, the narrator voice for me was the most annoying part, I found it far too monotone. overall It's a film about private addictions, secrecy and denials; enjoyable dark comedy, I'd give it three and a half stars; worth watching.

Andrea Bowhill
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on 23 November 2008
This is a must see! Quite challenging and provocative, the narrative presents us with that post-modern cliche of dysfunctionality within our social mores, our families, relationships and with ourselves as individuals. However, this is an intelligent film which doesn't dwell without a sensitive excoriation of its subject. All of the cast provide us with stellar performances. There is much to be said for the sympathetic approach the writer-director takes with some 'hot potato' issues such as the child abuser, pornography and sexual desire. There are some quite humourous lilts which punctuate the sombreness of the piece and there are some quite raw depictions of sexuality which may be challenging to some. This, I feel, is a very fine movie indeed; one which will fire up the synapses and poke our prejudices.Highly recommended, like Todd Field's other work, particularly "In the Bedroom".
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on 28 April 2009
The way director Todd Field handles human sexuality in this movie reminds me a bit of the way Todd Solondz handled it in Happiness (1998). There are the same starkly realistic depictions of a variety of human desires, lusts and cravings with perhaps an emphasis on what devotees of the missionary position might call "perversions." Although not quite as wild as Solondz's film, Little Children is equally challenging to politically correct notions of sexuality.

Kate Winslet stars as Sarah Pierce, a suburban mom who has a Master's in English lit and a husband who finds sex in cyber space more satisfying than sex with her. She joins (at a slight distance) some other more conventional suburban moms at the local playground where they sit around and talk while watching their children play. One of the things the women talk about is Brad Adamson (Patrick Wilson), who is a handsome stay at home dad who has twice fluked the bar exam. He takes care of his son while his high powered wife Kathy (Jennifer Connelly) is busy bringing home the bacon. The women don't talk to him. They watch him warily but with keen interest and call him "the prom king." When Sarah catches her husband having sex with his computer (so to speak) she resolves to gain the Prom King for herself, partly out of sheer romantic lust and partly out of revenge.

While we watch the adulterous union unfold, we are given some perspective in the form of Ronnie J. McGorvey (played with appropriate creepiness by Jackie Earle Haley) who has just been released from prison after serving a term for exposing himself to children. A side complication arrives in the form of Larry Hedges (Noah Emmerich), who is a "retired" cop with a temper management problem and a tendency to find objects of hate onto which to direct his anger. Ronnie the pervert becomes his target.

All this seems...well, unremarkable and even tiresome except for the fact that everybody in the movie is flawed in some very serious and interesting way, and director Field's interpretation of the characters comes down resolutely on the side of the nonconventional. In some respects what Field and Tom Perrotta, who wrote the novel from which he and Field adapted the screenplay, are saying is that the characters are all little children (hence the title). And not only that, but we're all a bit perverse. It just depends on your point of view. Sarah's parenting skills are less than optimal and it's obvious that she is bored with being a stay at home mom. Her "perversion" is similar to Gustav Flaubert's Madame Bovary in that she wants more out of life than being a wife and mother. She wants, as she explains to the woman's book club, what Madame Bovary wanted, to satisfy "the hunger - the hunger for an alternative and the refusal to accept a life of unhappiness."

Brad wants to remain a child, being taken care of by his wife, while he pretends to study for the bar exam but instead plays touch football and watches the boys at the skateboard park as though a boy himself, or allows himself to be seduced by Sarah.

Ronnie wants to have sex with little girls, and Sarah's husband wants to have sex with a porn star--or perhaps they just want to masturbate to fantasies of same...and so on.

What makes this an excellent movie is first of all Kate Winslet who continues to prove she can play a wide variety of characters and get into their skin and become them as she has done in so many films. She brings the nuances of Sarah Pierce's character, her strengths and weaknesses, to life in a vivid and compelling way that forces us to identify with her, much the same way we identify with Madame Bovary.

Also first rate is the unflinching way human sexuality is presented and the refusal to accept conventionality that is the heart of this story. I think that directors Todd Field and Todd Solondz may be working in a new genre for the 21st century that might be called "sexual realism." Perhaps it is just a coincidence but both directors had Jane Adams play a kind of forlorn wallflower at the game of life in both movies. Perhaps she symbolizes in some strange way the confused, frustrated and deeply masked phenomenon that is human sexuality.

The real essence of the film is contained in the scene in which Ronnie enters the pool with all the children playing in it and the moms in the lounge chairs watching. Suddenly Sarah becomes aware that Ronnie the pervert is in the pool and then all the other moms become aware. There is a mass hysteria and a mass exit from the pool by the children. The moms are horrified and are desperate to know, "Did he touch you?" Ronnie is seen as some kind of bug-like creature who somehow will bring a contagion upon them through his touch. The point here and indeed throughout the film (and also in Solondz's film) is that we overreact to sex that offends us. We find the touch of a creepy pedophile worse than some kind of physical violence.

This is a thesis that will not find acceptance in America for many years to come if ever because sexual perversity is more threatening to most Americans than extreme violence. Why this should be so is not really a mystery. But to explain it here is beyond the scope of this review, and anyway explaining it would hardly change it. However the fact that Field and Solandz are bringing it to our attention is something new and is perhaps the beginning of a challenge to conventional morality.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICEon 26 November 2008
There are some excellent scenes in this film - an examination of children of various ages; the local paedophile snorkels in the town pool and clears it in moments, there is a the strange first date conversation of two damaged people, desperate housewife Kate Winslet makes a move on the playground's fantasy hearthrob and suburban aging housewives discuss Madame Bovary in their book group. If the whole film was as coherent as those scenes then this would be a five star movie.

The full time child carers Sarah (Kate Winslet) and Brad (Patrick Wilson) start an affair and while away the summer. It's as if they are 'playing house' while their adult partners do their jobs. Brad seeks his lost youth in football, skateboarding and leisurely adulterous afternoons and asks his wife for a cellphone. Scholarly Sarah - who seems to have settled for a man she didn't love - struggles towards the perfect life she doesn't seem to have felt she deserved before. The sex scenes are good - sensual and with the sense of living in the moment.

The mother of Ronnie, the 'local pervert' is robust in defense of her son who is the subject of a hate campaign by an emotionally damaged ex cop. Ronnie is sympathetic as somebody's child - their scenes are genuinely poignant and moving.

So what doesn't work? The narration is nicely done but I don't see the value of it when it's simply describing what is being more than adequately acted. The contrast between 'beautiful' Jennifer Connelly and 'frumpy' Kate Winslet isn't there and so doesn't make Sarah's insecurities about her looks, or why she married the two dimensionable Richard, that credible. For me, the end was a bit forced in all story lines.....but the film is well acted and paced and just misses being very good indeed.
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on 11 July 2009
Perrotta's script, based on his own novel, sets out to explore some emotive themes: marriage and fidelity; sexual mores; fear, anger, and confusion caused by the reintroduction of sex offenders into the community. For the most part he does this with wit, charm, and intelligence. But the tale of the two married couples at the centre of the plot never really interweaves with that of the released sex offender; at least not until the end of the film. For most of the movie we see the two stories side by side. This leads to a feeling that these themes have been artificially juxtaposed; a feeling which is reinforced by the unconvincing turn of events in the final scenes. Although the film is impeccably produced, and the performances are universally good, the end result is less insightful than the producers clearly believe it to be.
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