Little Children - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Little Children Reviews

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Super Reviewer
May 3, 2007
This was well on it's way to being an excellent movie - and then it just lost it's own thread.
Super Reviewer
½ January 7, 2012
Author Tom Perrotta joined up with director/sometimes actor Todd Field to make an adaptation of his novel about the woes of living in suburbia, especially where the effects of adultery and having a registered sex offender living nearby are concerned. Incidentally, this is a lot like Revolutionary Road (and both star Kate Winslet), but this one is far less depressing, and has more obvious notes of sardonic satire.

The film starts off really cooking with some sharp and rather witty satire, but then eventually devolves into overwrought melodrama that runs overlong and doesn't really tell me me anything I didn't really already know. Plus, the movie makes it seem like all suburbanites suffer like these characters do, and that's just not the case at all.

I did enjoy the film a fair amount though, that much is certain. I'm mixed about the use of narration, especially since it mostly tells instead of showing, which gets to me. Also, I think the subplot about the sex offender could have been better incorporated into the story, especially since it is some of the best material here, with Jackie Earle Haley giving a brilliant performance in a really tough and unenviable role.

The stuff concerning adultery and midlife crisis is somewhat on the nose and reeks of rehahing of better movies, but it is still decently well played, and no one here really gives a bad performance, although Connelly could have been used more, and it did sorta seem like the actors were fishing for Oscars at times.

Still, the film looks great, the music's not bad, and I wasn't really as bored as I could have been.
paul o.
Super Reviewer
½ January 28, 2012
Freaking great! Its a real nice way of showing how intense suburban life can be. Though the ending is a bit of a fantasy, the rest is raw and powerful.
Super Reviewer
½ February 8, 2011
"Little Children" (Todd Field terrific follow up to "In the Bedroom") is well within my wheel house for what I look for in a film. A great story that commentates on the human condition in suburbia, fine performances (Kate Winslet is particularly great here), detailed direction (which adds layers not present in the writing), beautiful cinematography and challenging characters, whom, quite secretly, are living their lives on the edge of destruction. In the end "Little Children" feels like you are watching the pages of a novel, literally, coming alive. This film works best a literary exercise thanks to the novel it was based on and the dedication of transporting it to the screen- 3rd person narrator and all.
Super Reviewer
February 7, 2010
Generally speaking, I do not remember films all that well after finishing them. Within days most of the details are lost. I think one of my favorite things about Little Children is simply the fact that it is so unforgettable. It is the type of movie that sticks with you, that you cannot stop thinking about. In the simplest ways, the film is pretty obvious and to the point, but there is still so much depth, beauty, and emotion. Kate Winslet and Jennifer Connolly are both great actresses and, sadly, I tend to overlook both of them. Patrick Wilson really seemed perfect for his character; the way he carried himself and his expressions and such just seemed so natural and in tune with his character. I really fell in love with both his and Kate Winslet's characters. One thing that is kind of interesting is that you never hear anything about this film in the media or see the dvd in stores, etc. Personally, I had heard a decent amount about Little Children, but only from other people. It seems significant somehow... All around, I just thought it was a fascinating, poetic, and affecting movie, one I will really like to rewatch someday.
Super Reviewer
½ January 3, 2008
A close and intimate look of suburban life, particularly two people in unhappy relationships who fall for each other and a self-righteous former cop giving a known sexual offender a hard time. Although obviously connected, these two story lines sometimes run entirely independent from each other. There is a narrator voice telling us about the internal thoughts of the main characters, which feels odd at first but works surprisingly well, giving the film a bit of a bookish feeling. Things seem to lead up to a rather big catastrophe but the solution is thankfully not really what you'd expect. The reasons for some of the protagonists' final decisions remain unexplained, though. Excellent acting all around, especially by Winslet and Haley. Definitely worth seeing.
Super Reviewer
April 4, 2009
"You couldn't change the past. But the future could be a different story. And it had to start somewhere."

The lives of two lovelorn spouses from separate marriages, a registered sex offender, and a disgraced ex-police officer intersect as they struggle to resist their vulnerabilities and temptations.

Little Children is one of the finest films of the past decade, a film that is intensely intelligent in concept, in writing, in acting, and in production values. It is rare to find a film so right in every aspect, dealing with aspects of living we'd all rather overlook while at the same time recognizing bits and pieces of ourselves and of those around us in manner that contributes to the frightening credibility of the story.

Todd Field, so highly respected for his previous film 'In the Bedroom', directs the story from the novel by Tom Perrotta with whom he wrote the screenplay. It deals with the way children perceive the world, even when those children are of adult age. The story is told to us by a narrator who unwinds the events like a channeler, showing how each of these disparate people come to realize that they are each acting with retarded, regressive emotional skills usually found only in children. And in the end of the story each has been forced to mature - or have they? The entire cast is brilliant as is the quality of direction by Field. The musical score and the hauntingly beautiful cinematography add to the pulsating rhythm of this exploration of the psyches of 21st century adults. It may be a difficult movie to watch for some, but it is a triumph of cinematic art. Highly Recommended.
Super Reviewer
February 3, 2010
Super Reviewer
November 17, 2009
I have a hard time reviewing movies like Little Children. The difficulty isn't in deciding whether I like it, it's having to explain how the things about it that I liked are hard to extract from the things I didn't like. The pros and cons are just mixed up together.

I loved and didn't like how the movie made me empathize with characters that I should not have supported and the decisions that they made. I loved how uncomfortable it made me feel about certain things, like how we treat those among us who are undesirable, and how cruel we can be when we fear someone. I loved how I slowly built up sympathy for a character, and then that emotion was deftly twisted into revulsion, and finally pity. I loved how it made me wonder at how loneliness and distance can creep between a husband and wife, without them realizing it until the damage is done. This isn't a feel good movie by any means, but neither is it really depressing. It's a mixture of the good and the bad things in life.

It's always nice to get more from a movie than you expected. I was expecting to see a simple drama about the suburban family, starring my favorite actress. Instead, I found a story with all the richness of a good novel. It was even narrated, which contributed even more to the novel-like experience. If you have the patience to slowly build toward the pay-off of a well told story, and an affinity for characters that struggle with very human flaws, then Little Children is a movie that you must see.
Super Reviewer
May 19, 2009
A good movie that I am sure that everyone can relate to a part or two in this movie. The very best part is the 1st meeting in the park, oh how true. Movie show's just how cruel life can be at times and how people just judge without no thoughts of there actions. After my 1st watch I didn't care for this film as much as I did after thinking about it and then watching it again. Its worth getting and enjoying. 4 stars
Super Reviewer
½ October 31, 2007
I love it when I put on a film expecting a good time passer and I find out it's so much more. Little Children is one of the best surprises.

The best way to describe this story is that it's a look at a community and the way they live their life, with situations changing due to the release of a sex offender into said community.

To anyone who has seen this film and wonders why the children the title speaks of seem to be props and not characters in their right, I propose this theory: having not read the book, I can only go by what the film offers. Perhaps the little children of the title are the main and supporting characters. We have Sarah Pierce (Kate Winslet, who just goes from strength to strength, and makes us forget about that movie with the sinking boat which was overrated), a housewife frustrated with her husband and who has little love for her own child; Brad Adamson (Patrick Wilson, who I really have to keep looking for updates on whatever he's working on as he has a presence that enhances a film), a househusband who can't find the motivation to take the bar exam again, preferring to watch skateboarders and find comfort in the arms of Sarah (more on that later); Larry Hedges (Noah Emmerich, who is arguably the antagonist of this film), a disgraced former cop who bullies the sex offender (Jackie Earle Haley, who is DAMN good in this role), who's just trying to live his life (again, we'll come back to him)

Along with the supporting women who play the mothers of the children seen in the playground/pool scenes, most of the main characters seem to regress to child-like ideas in order to keep themselves going. Some have ideas of running away with their lovers, some bully and harass citizens and others act like hypocrites and suggest their way of life is better.
Of course, I could just be over-analyzing and it's about the sex offender and the concerns over the children. Or both.

Normally, I am against the idea of people cheating on their loved ones. You can use any excuse you want, be it not being treated right or that your spouse is cheating on you and you're getting revenge, I don't care. You want to sleep with someone else, date someone else, you end things with the person you're seeing. This is perhaps the only film in which I actually sympathize with those doing the cheating (though this is not without precedent. BJ Hunnicutt had a one night stand on M*A*S*H but he felt terrible about it and never strayed again. Not making excuses, not defending him, but it's hard to hate BJ. It's like hating puppies, it's unthinkable)
Sarah and Brad are yearning for more out of their lives, they want to be with people who devote their time to each other. They have a connection, and their kids get along. So it seems like a match. But as we all know, things aren't always so smooth in the world of passion.
Patrick and Kate really have great chemistry together and I'd love to see them reunite for a future project.

Now let's talk about Jackie Earle Haley's character, Ronald McGorvey. Treated as the town pariah, he is oddly enough, one of the few people who's actually trying to better himself. Like I said before, no defense here, but he just wants to be left alone and wants to reintegrate back into society.
He's moved back in with his mother, and tries hard not to succumb to temptation. What he does towards the end I will not spoil, but it's ironic to me that the one person trying to change for the better is the one vilified as the monster. Jackie Earle Haley did magnificent in this role, and hopefully now that he and Patrick have been in Watchmen, his profile will improve

If there is one thing I have to put down, it's the narration. It's not bad, but I have to wonder why it's needed as the narrator seemingly has nothing to do with the story and seems to be Mr. Exposition for the thoughts and feelings of our characters. Yes, they aren't entirely obvious from the body language but why is a stranger telling us what they're thinking?

Rarely if ever do I see people talking about this film. It's been overlooked and that's just wrong. I hope more people see it, I found it quite powerful.
Super Reviewer
½ October 1, 2006
Well, I must say that I'm not impressed with what Todd Field did in this movie... The directing style was quite weird, the story got no point, yet the editing was a disaster... I really don't have any idea at all how can this movie get 3 Oscar nominee... For Kate Winslet as the leading actress, her performance wasn't that great, maybe it's a little different than her other role before but for me it's not make me impressed... Maybe she is really the actress that all the Oscar jury loves... And for Jackie Earle Haley who get an Oscar nominee for Best Supporting Actor, maybe his performance was quite different, but still he didn't impress me... And latest is the Screenplay who get a nominee for Best Adapted Screenplay... The story just a story about affair with a little extra spice in some places but overall it didn't make me impress... Maybe if we compared it to the book, they got a great adaptation, but in my opinion who didn't read the book before, I know that an affair story won't go any further besides the acting of the player... And for Jennifer Connelly, Patrick Wilson, or Noah Emmerich, they got a nice try in here, but still it's a decent... Overall, I don't know exactly the score of this movie, but because they have the lovely Winslet in here, I can't gave this movie less than 2 and a half stars...
Super Reviewer
May 9, 2007
Todd Field delivers a detailed study of adult suburban life, but only occasionally rises the material to greatness. There are too many moments that scream "do-you-get-the-symbolism?" But apart from that, a very good adaptation and great performances by Kate Winslet and Jackie Earle Haley.
Super Reviewer
½ August 2, 2007
Sensationalism and pseudo indie feel helps to sell movies despite a rather inane content, but it doesn't really do anything to me.
The narration causes fatigue and doesn't really contribute to anything important, aside from very brief keen examinations.
Jackie Earle Haley's character should have been explored deeper. He and his mother (Phyllis Sommerville) play the most interesting parts of the whole.
Super Reviewer
½ December 13, 2007
Normally I like these sorts of movies a lot -- the type where the movie tells us of a bunch of intersecting lives. But Little Children isn't the best of this genre.

Although this movie has a lot of little children in it, it seems that the reference to Little Children is how the grownups are acting. The narration pissed me off too.

Interesting, I saw this movie again a year later, and this time I liked the narrator. Kate Winslet plays her part well.
Super Reviewer
August 6, 2008
1st act wonderful. 2nd act stagnant. I didn't like how they changed the book's ending so that everyone gets a shot at redemption and there's more finality about where they all end up in their miserable, humdrum lives.
Super Reviewer
May 13, 2008
Interesting plotline that flows pretty nicely. Great acting all-around with Kate and Patrick leading the way. Loses a half-star with that annoying-as-hell voiceover that seems to drop in and out every so often.
Super Reviewer
June 24, 2008
Uncomfortable look at the ugly facade beneath a quiet suburban town. Sometimes, adults behave badly, and the results are painful.
Super Reviewer
½ July 25, 2007
"Haunting" is the first word that comes to mind after seeing this film. Not because it is particularly spooky (though there are some rather dubious characters), but because it stays with you long after it ends. I mean that in two ways as well:
1. It seeps into you and tugs hard at your sense of self and,
2. The ending is...not quite an ending. Perhaps it is even more of a beginning.
Those of you who read my reviews know that I speak not only to the storyline, but more the emotions and thoughts evoked.
Yes, I can talk about the amazing character development. I can speak to the incomparable Kate Winslet and the effective use of the narration which could have gone awry, but did not. I could speak to the amazing Jennifer Connelly and her breadth, but there is more to say and little space.
This movie speaks to that which you thought you might want, until you realize that what you want and what you need are two very different things. Sometimes they intersect and sometimes life leaves you barren. Sometimes you are fulfilled, but that feeling of being "whole" may wane in the wake of your adolescent mid-life crisis.
Sometimes you are the adult, but more are the child.
Broken and bare in the face of your humanity it is time to make a choice just will have to chose again, and again, and again defining yourself as your life progresses.

One of my favorite lyricists, Matt Johnson of "The The" wrote a phenomenal song that I interpret as Buddhist that sums up some of these thoughts quite well. It is called, "True Happiness This Way Lies."

"And have you ever wanted something so badly that it possessed your body and your soul through the night and through the day until you finally get it and then you realize that it wasn't what you wanted after all.
And then those selfsame sickly little thoughts now go and attach themselves to something, or somebody, new and the whole goddamn thing starts all over again.
Well, I've been crushing the symptoms but I can't locate the cause.
Could God really be so cruel?
To give us feelings that could never be fulfilled. Baby!
I've got my sights set on you.
And someday, someday,'ll come my way.
But when you put your arms around me
I'll be looking over your shoulder for something new
'cause I ain't ever found peace upon the breast of a girl
I ain't ever found peace with the religions of the world
I ain't ever found peace at the bottom of a glass
sometimes it seems the more I ask for the less I receive
sometimes it seems the more I ask for the less I receive
The only true freedom is freedom from the heart's desires
and the only true happiness this way lies.

I highly recommend this film. You will not be disappointed.
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