Tuesday, 9 February 2010

It's Not The Cheating. It's The Hunger.

Let me get this straight from the outset: Kate Winslet can pretty much do no wrong in my eyes. In fact, I'm sitting here and I can't think of a single time she has wronged me (for in my world, every poor choice or performance or speech or dress is a personal insult.)

So, I'm not going to rave about her performance. It should also be noted that Jennifer Connelly can do very little wrong. Requiem For A Dream effectively quashed any ability for me to talk down about her. 

Onwards to Little Children. I liked this film, I didn't love it. Winslet plays Sarah Pierce, a woman in an unhappy marriage, looking after her daughter Lucy. She takes Lucy to the park where Lucy doesn't really mingle with the other children - but Sarah doesn't really mingle with the other mothers either. Sarah doesn't seem to fit their mould of perfection. She forgets things, she's not all out to impress every minute of every day. This, of course, leads to her getting the man.

The man in question is Brad (Patrick Wilson), dubbed the Prom King by the other mothers. He's unemployed, looking after his young son while his wife Kathy (Jennifer Connelly) earns a living making documentaries. He's sometimes seen at the park where Sarah and the other mothers are every day, and one day, to get a rise out of the ladies watching, the two hug. And then kiss. And then Sarah follows him to the pool, where he is every day, orchestrating some 'oh wow, hi, didn't know you were here' moments, upon which they become friends and then lovers.

While this is going on, Ronnie (Jackie Earle Haley) has moved back into the neighbourhood. So what? So, he's a convicted child molester. There is a quasi-vigilante movement led by ex-cop Larry (Noah Emmerich) to get rid of him, and Brad finds himself mixed up in it, really as a cover and a distraction from the feelings he is developing towards Sarah. But they don't stop, and the effect Ronnie has on the neighbourhood is keep them constantly on edge.

It's a couple of simple stories that are nicely woven together to form something that appears superficially to be a little more complex than it really is, but it's nice to know what's going on all of the time. It's well written, well acted (Haley and Winslet picked up Oscar noms as Support and Lead respectively), but I have a few quibbles with the way director Todd Field makes his films. The same problem I had with his previous effort In The Bedroom I have with Little Children, and that is that it all feels just a little too stylised, a little too particular, to quite hit home. It doesn't quite ring true because it all seems a little... well, hyper. Hyper-real, perhaps. It doesn't sing truth when that is what I think the film needs. The stylisation distances me from the narrative a little, makes me feel very much like I'm on the outside looking in when I think I need to be feeling every beat of fear, terror, guilt and desire that these characters are feeling. It's way too intellectual and not nearly visceral enough to make a lasting impression.

It does look beautiful, however. Antonio Calvache shot it beautifully. So credit there. And the elements were individually quite solid. They just didn't quite add up to the whole that the film could have been. 3.5 stars.


  1. Yes, I agree, Kate has never insulted us with a performance or speech or dress :)) (it counts for another Cate, the Blanchett one)

    LITTLE CHILDREN have actually left a very deep and lasting impression on me. It's one of the movies I shall remember forever. Beside Kate and amazing Patrick Wilson, I also liked the tempo of the storytelling, and the tittle of the movie, which many people find confusing, but it's perfectly clear and ingenious to me.

  2. Cate did insult us with something strange and crocheted last year, but we just kind of ignore it and hope it doesn't happen again...

    I liked most of what it was about, just felt that it was a little overdone. I'd still recommend it to people, though.