Little Children

[I'm so far behind on my Oscar reviews, I haven't even finished the movies from 2006! But, I am working on it. I finally have the 2006 Oscar Movies page up, where you can take a look at what Oscar movies I have so-far reviewed from that year, and which ones I still plan to.]

Movie-Hype #738 - LITTLE CHILDREN

{Oscar Nominations for Best Actress (Kate Winslet); Best Supporting Actor (Jackie Earle Haley): Best Adapted Screenplay}

I found LITTLE CHILDREN to be a vile and contemptible movie. Maybe it's me. IMDB users rate it 7.9 out of 10, and this with over 24,000 votes. Metacritic has an average score of 75, as does Rotten Tomatoes, with a 75% "Fresh" rating. A.O. Scott says the movie is "…challenging, accessible, and hard to stop thinking about." I'll give him that. I couldn't stop thinking about how much I hated it.

Like I said; maybe it's me. Maybe I was in a bad mood that day. I last reacted this viscerally angry to THE VIRGIN SUICIDES, and plenty of people love that movie. I'm not so arrogant as to think that everyone's wrong and I'm right. Usually when my negativity on a movie flies against public and critical opinion, I examine my own views, to see if I missed it. But not here. I was just too disgusted.

It's not the child-abuse. Actually, there is no child abuse, but even if there were, I've seen plenty of movies with that subject matter. It's all how you handle it. There is Jackie Earle Haley (who was nominated for an Oscar), who plays Ronnie. So far Ronnie has only "exposed" himself to a minor, and served a jail-term for it, but let's not kid ourselves. Ronnie likes 'em young. He doesn't want to, but he does.

Actually, Ronnie is one of the least despicable characters in the film. Maybe director Todd Field is trying to tell us something. Yeah, I get it. We're all human with our own foibles. Next.

The only one more likable is Ronnie's mother, who realizes who her son is, but she's his mom, you know? If I were to have any genuine feeling for someone, it would be her.

Then there's Larry, played by Noah Emmerich (the best friend in THE TRUMAN SHOW). He's a disgraced cop who accidentally shot a thirteen year old kid. Trying to win back his honor, he has decided to harass the living daylights out of Ronnie. Ronnie definitely has his problems, but Larry is just a jackass. I feel a life lesson coming on.

These wonderful miscreants aren't even that heart of the movie. That (dis)honor belongs to Sarah and Brad, played by Kate Winslet and Patrick Wilson. Brad can't pass the bar exam and feels emasculated by his wife (Jennifer Connelly) who earns more than he does. Sarah is in a loveless marriage, and wishes for her college days, when she made a Difference.

They both have small children, which they take to the park every day, as every white suburbanite liberal woman is required to do, lest she be a bad mother. (Brad is humiliated to be in this role, but it does make him the prime daytime stud on the block.)

This is how Brad and Sarah meet, the kids, and try not to fall down shocked when they begin a torrid affair. People, I hope you understand the depth of my disdain when I report that not even vigorous sex and generous nudity on the part of Miss Winslet could sway my mood.

I am a huge fan of Kate Winslet, and even though it violates my principles, I sometimes watch movies just because she's in them; I usually respect her choices. Winslet was nominated for Best Actress here, but I don't see it. Again, maybe it's because I found her character so vile. Her "excuse" for adultery is that her husband has developed an online porn fetish. Hey: I'm not arguing that things weren't working for them in the marriage, but masturbating with panties over your head while visiting a naughty website is years away from letting the neighbor stick it in you. But that's not even the worst part about her. She cares nothing for her child, and considers the kid a nuisance, keeping her from important work, from pleasure. That's what adoption's for, you self-absorbed waste of space. (I didn't give Madam Bovary a pass, and I ain't doing it here.)

Mary Ann: Oh that's nice. So now cheating on your husband makes you a feminist?

Sarah: No, no, no. It's not the cheating. It's the hunger - the hunger for an alternative and the refusal to accept a life of unhappiness.

It's like a Gloria Steinem Hallmark Card.

I watched LITTLE CHILDREN because of the Oscar nominations, and partly for the director Todd Field, who made IN THE BEDROOM, which I loved so much. However, in that movie we saw imperfect people dealing with wrenching pain. Here we have people who can't breathe because of their own selfishness. I'm sorry, but in any movie that's not a farce we have to have someone to root for, or at least feel empathy towards. Heck: even Hitler loved children.

With its separate story-lines that twist together just so, you can tell that LITTLE CHILDREN wants to be the SYRIANA or CRASH of…I don't know….people who make bad choices, maybe?

It's not.

LITTLE CHILDREN is a movie about people who generally don't have it that bad to begin with, make things a whole lot worse by their own hand, and don't learn anything a child couldn't have told them.

Wait! I just got it! Maybe we're all emotionally little children. Or, maybe we all should BE more like little children. Pick your own faux-platitude and call it wisdom.

I'm not sure what bothers me more, the movie itself, which robbed me of my time assaulted my taste, or the scads of elitists out there who are quick to find great meaning, and would tell me I don't get it. Maybe I don't get it.

I don't want to.

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Lady Jane Scarlett said...

I disliked this movie too, but I think that there were some redeeming factors.
I absolutely hated Holly Golightly in "Breakfast at Tiffany's", I wanted to throw something (very hard) at the TV while watching it. So I know how you feel Hypey.
I'll putcha on Facebook.

Sea Hag said...

Both books for 'Little Children' and 'The Virgin Suicides' are better than the movies. I thought that the term 'Little Children' was a reference to the way the adults acted, especially the two having an affair.

Anonymous said...

On another note (this one's old already), I have a request: Rank the colors. This could go in many directions. My 11-yr son just explained to me how secondary colors have an opposite! Blue plus yellow make green. So green's opposite is red! Smart kid...good thing he doesn't take after his father!

Anonymous said...

I liked the book a ton more than the movie, even though there were not many differences at all. Maybe because when we read it, we have our own reasons and thoughts. But then, when someone puts it on film, our personal creation gets lost.