Little Children Todd Field

Little Children Todd Field
Being an adult sucks. Let’s face facts: for most of the adult population growing up doesn’t exactly meet the glamorous expectations we imagined as children. Such is the case for the characters in Todd Field’s follow-up to the magnificent In the Bedroom. Model suburbia is the setting where bored, stay-at-home dad Brad (Patrick Wilson) begins a sordid, unlikely affair with bored, stay-at-home mom Sarah (Kate Winslet). With unsupportive spouses paving the way and their children providing an easy excuse to maintain their fling, Brad and Sarah live their lives as carefree teenagers, getting off during the day in her laundry room or at night on a brightly lit field after his big victory in touch football. As an interesting twist, sex offender Ronnie (played by child star Jackie Earle Haley) enters the neighbourhood, putting fear into the parents, while using his own devoted mother as an emotional crutch. As expected, consequences tie all of the characters together in the film’s finale but not with the predictable tidiness most films try to convey. Tom Perrotta and Field adapt Perrotta’s novel superbly, painting a rather humorous portrait (captured beautifully on camera with an arresting, art-house-friendly touch) of such damaging subjects as infidelity and paedophilia through sardonic situations like the "shark in a pool” reaction to Ronnie’s public swim and Brad’s careless preoccupation with local skaters. There’s never a moment where we’re supposed to feel that what is unfolding with these pathetic characters is anything but comical pathos, best exemplified by Will Lyman’s soapy narration. However, the taste Little Children leaves in your mouth is surprisingly a compassionate one thanks to the emotionally desperate acting clinic put on by Oscar nominees Winslet and Haley. It won’t have the same impact on everyone but the social satire is deep and intense, sharpening the same satisfying edge as Oscar-dominating American Beauty. Unfortunately there’s nothing on this DVD other than the film, which is a disappointment considering the fun that’s dying to be had by a cast and crew commentary. (Alliance Atlantis)