‘Little Children’ showcases raw human emotion

Robert Taylor

What a quiet, introspective, beautiful movie Little Children is.

It has a somber premise, deals with disgusting aspects of human existence and showcases human beings in their rawest, most emotional states. And yet, it is also vivacious and humane.

A sexual predator has moved into an unnamed perfect small town, and the residents are less than happy. Fliers appear on cars, paint is sprayed on the sidewalk in front of the predator’s house and every parent is on edge.

This subplot seemingly has little or nothing to do with the major plot of the film: a married man (Patrick Wilson) and a married woman (Kate Winslet) slowly and inexplicably begin to have an affair during the long summer. Their marriages begin to suffer and their children get confused as the pair falls in love.

Sounds like a wonderful upbeat movie, right? The material is very dark, but the film isn’t. There is quite a bit of narration from an unseen person who becomes the soul of the film. Without the narration — which in most films comes off as completely unnecessary and annoying — the characters and their actions would seem completely selfish and disgusting, but because of the narration we learn much more about who these people are and why they act as they do.

Winslet and Wilson are amazing in their respective roles. Winslet is given the hard task of downplaying her natural beauty while still being seductive enough to make Wilson yearn for her.

Wilson must embody the none-too-smart former jock who knowingly cheats on his beautiful wife (Jennifer Connelly) while still keeping the audience sympathetic toward him. He blows the viewer away.

Alas, the film is not perfect. Everything comes together (or, perhaps, falls apart) a little too easily in the final 10 minutes. While the film provides us with an emotional climax, it doesn’t provide enough aftermath for us to digest what has just happened.

At first glance, Little Children may resemble one of those over-hyped, underwhelming, critically praised Oscar-contenders that rarely entertains and often leaves the viewer depressed. It isn’t. This movie is a phenomenal emotional achievement that will appeal to all sorts of people at different places in their lives. It’s one of the best films of the year, and I hate using that phrase.

Contact ALL correspondent Robert Taylor at [email protected].

Little Children

Starring Kate Winslet, Patrick Wilson, Jennifer Connelly and Phyllis Somerville

Directed by Todd Field

Released by New Line Cinema

Rated R for strong sexuality and nudity, language and some disturbing content

Stater rating (out of five): *****