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|Index||94 reviews in total|
New to a seaside village, a young girl and her poet father seem to live an isolated existence, until curious neighbors get nosy and always seem to find the fiercely independent girl on her own... Unwisely advertised as a horror movie, "Little Girl" is instead an amazing psychological thriller, rich with atmosphere and featuring a lead performance by Jodie Foster that is deft and incredibly assured. The sequence where Foster, troubled by the sickness of a friend, eats alone at a hamburger counter (actually, she hasn't touched her food), then wanders down the street studded with marquee lights has to be one of the most beautiful Foster moments put on film. Well-directed and written, the movie is very cognizant of the way adults condescend to or ignore children, and allows leading character Rynn to use her intelligence as a tool--and maybe a weapon as well. Those looking for slasher-type jolts may be disappointed with the picture; it's more subtle than something like "Halloween", creating suspense out of tension and mood instead of outré violence. Foster was at a personal peak at this time in the movies, having just completed "Taxi Driver" and "Bugsy Malone". This isn't the harrowing character study of "Taxi Driver", but it is a remarkable portrait of a terribly uncommon child dealing with very grown-up issues. Due out on DVD in October 2005.
Unique suspense film made in Canada in the mid-1970s. It's a shame that no one has ever really noticed this little film. Well, TBS sure did and I first watched it on there in 1987 or 1988. Since, I have found it in a couple of video stores and eventually taped it off of TBS in 1990 or 1991. Nonetheless, it is a truly wonderful thriller featuring a spectacular performance from a young, gifted Foster. Sheen and Smith are quite nasty as her enemies, and Shuman and Jacoby are good as her friends. Altogether, a remarkable suspense film that has not received the praise it deserves.
Great Suspense and Atmosphere. This movie instantly became one of my
all-time favorites and is difficult to describe without giving too much
away. More than most movies I can remember, reading too many comments about
it's content beforehand can detract from the viewing experience (and a great
one at that!) and ruin the suspense. I will try not to give too much about
the film away beforehand.
First of all, I loved the production quality, atmosphere and locale. It would be a great movie to see on Halloween night for example, at least in my opinion. It really can be watched anytime however and will be just as great. The acting was high quality, all the way around but especially with Jodie Foster and Martin Sheen and the direction and score are excellent as well.
I had a problem with the plausibility of Jodie Foster's character behaving essentially as an adult. It was a little tough for me to buy into a 13 (or newly turned 14 year old) cooking gourmet meals, serving fine wines, listening to Chopin and generally acting much older than her chronological age.
Even taking into consideration the events in her life which apparently had shaped her personality, she seemed too mature for her age. If you put that concern aside however and accept it as a given premise of the movie you can sit back and enjoy the fun of trying to figure out what's going on.
And trying to figure out what's going on really *is* fun in this movie. Figuring out what's going on with her mysterious father is enough to keep you occupied in itself (if you think you've figured out what's going on with him you will find later that you probably haven't) and that's only one aspect of this complex scenario.
I hate when movies this good are not in general circulation any longer. Brian de Palma's "Sisters" and many other excellent movies also fall into this category. I can't figure out why studios can't figure out ways to continue to make them available to the public, after all...they went to the trouble to make them in the first place.
If you do get a chance to see "Little Girl Who Lives Down the Lane" however, jump at it. You aren't likely to be disappointed.
Rynn Jacobs is a lonely, but well equipped 13-year old girl who lives
with her poet father, while keeping a dark secret in the cellar.
Although whenever somebody dropped by she would tell him or her that
her father was too busy to greet his or her guests, or that he was out
of town. But her life in solitaire is interrupted when she gets a visit
from her snoopy landlady and her perverted son who takes a real
shinning to Rynn. This is when Rynn goes to any lengths to keep this
lifestyle with the help from a local crippled boy Mario, to herself.
This noteworthy gem of small-scale, mystery-thriller incorporates a fascinating slow-drifting character study that has certain believability in its characterizations and manipulative suspense. The macabrely, lurid context of the film could have over-step the mark, but it keeps it mostly under-wrapped with it being more hinted, than aiming for anything really illustrative. But that in mind, it doesn't lose any of that unnerving effect that's spun out, because the confronting performances and crafty dialogues are extremely effective in underlining the disquieting horror that lurks within the film's make-up. What sweeps you along is that the script is lyrically dense and quite thoughtful, while it still generates psychological tension in certain scenes without needing to go out with a bang. There's nothing big or powerful about it, because it plays it cards close to its chest and grafts away with it's involving story and sedated handling. The compelling plot is incredibly well defined by touching on many different aspects that Foster's character encounters. These range from loneliness to her approach on life through an adult perspective and finally that of her estrange relationships with some of the town's folk. It's all about her finding her feet and living her life the way she wants to without the intrusion of others (the adults) enforcing their resolutions onto her because she's "just" a child. Life is what you make it and she's not going to play their game. It's just really hard to categorise this unique film (which, was originally intended to be a TV movie), because it goes down oh so many paths, but it's successful in gelling them together.
Jodie Foster in the lead role makes the character her own by providing a maturely astute performance as the independent girl Rynn Jacobs. Her professionalism really does take hold in this picture and she does so with great control. Martin Sheen is equally as good and believable by playing his villainous character in a very subtle way, but still able to bring a creepy and vile presence to this predator Frank. Scott Jacoby is likable as Mario; Alexis Smith is great as the intrusively stern landlady Mrs. Hallet and Mort Shuman as the caring local officer gives a moving performance. What makes these performances so great is that they have vivid characters to feed off and shape.
Since it was intended to be a TV movie it does feel and look like one, but none of that took away from the elegant looking production. You could tell it was low-key because most of the film did take place in or around Rynn's isolated house. The direction by Nicolas Gessner is carefully crafted and from the outset he paints a mysteriously brooding atmosphere. The simple layout of photography is crisp and beautifully demonstrated. While, the stirring score is quite a strange one with it's heavy handed approach, but it has some sort of a hypnotic trance because it likes to play around with the moody and quite edgy situations.
This under-appreciated find of the 70's is a surprisingly focused and innovative treat that grips you from the very opening.
Even though I have heard and read about this movie for over 20 years, I never actually saw it until the newly released widescreen DVD. THE LITTLE GIRL WHO LIVES DOWN THE LANE is one of the best written and well acted films I have ever seen!! Although you will most likely find this title in the "horror" section at your video store, it is a solid mystery / suspense story. I have to say I was so impressed with the intelligent screenplay that I never lost interest even for a minute. The fact that the film is rated PG should not let that sway you either. There are some dark, chilling moments and innuendo that would probably gain the film an R rating today. By the way this DVD is the European cut which has a few moments absent from most U.S. prints! Also the soundtrack contains some funky heavy bass driven music that totally reminded me of Goblin! One of my greatest pleasures in life is to discover or re-discover old movies through the magic of DVD. Thank you MGM for making this title available!
Wow, where has this little flick been? The Little Girl who Lives Down
the Lane is an intriguing mystery, an intense character portrait and a
dark, brooding thriller all rolled into one rather odd little package -
and on a personal note, I liked it a lot! The film has gained some
notoriety (although not as much as it would have if it was more seen)
for the scene involving a thirteen year old Jodie Foster undressing -
but that never offsets the point of the film, and besides that; it's
hardly like the scene has just been thrown in to satisfy the perverts
in the audience. Furthermore, the most shocking scene in the film
involves a hamster with no naked teenage girl present! Anyway, The
Little Girl Who Lives Down the Lane is about a young girl, living down
a quiet lane with her poet father. Only nobody has ever this man, and
it isn't long before nosey neighbours - such as the perverted Frank
Hallet and his enquiring, power mad mother comes sniffing round, eager
to upset her life. She's not quick to let them know the truth, however,
and along with her boyfriend; a crippled young magician from the
neighbourhood, she is forced to take steps to preserve her
The most obvious theme running through the film stems from loneliness, and how being brought up on your own will ultimately leave you a different person to if things such as schools are allowed to take charge. This is interesting; as it preaches the idea of social conditioning makes up the person more than most like to admit. The film is often touted as being a horror, but this is incorrect. While the film does feature several macabre instances, and a foreboding and mysterious atmosphere that is present throughout the run time; there's very little in the way of actual horror. The Little Girl Who Lives Down the Lane is much more of a drama-come-mystery than a horror film. The film is probably most notable for it's lead performance. Jodie Foster had already impressed in 1976 with her role in Martin Scorsese's hit film, Taxi Driver - but here she is far better. Despite her young age, Foster commands the screen and despite being a child, her maturity and acting talent shine through to make this a more complete performance than most actresses manage in a lifetime.
On the whole, this film was once hard to come by; but with the new DVD currently doing the rounds, the film should be seen by everyone. The Little Girl Who Lives Down the Lane fits snugly alongside the rest of the classics of the seventies, and the fact that it has only just resurfaced is one of cinema's biggest injustices. Highly recommended viewing!
There are some films which strike a chord immediately upon seeing, and
in one's mind over many years. They act as a reference point for your life
For me, this film was one such. I saw this about 4 times when it was released. I was aged 14. Jodie Foster played Rynn, a 13 year old in the film. I was an only child. Rynn was an only child.
(I think this was the first and only time I had a crush on a fictional character - the shots of the birthday cake with facial close-ups are still vivid. The - at the time - exotic kaftans added to the ambience.)
The murders and threatened child abuse aside (!), this is a story of survival, of independence, and of a growing realisation of a need for others.
There are many levels to this movie, and I would love to see this again. Perhaps a DVD release is overdue - even if only to satisfy my own nostalgia.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
It's sometimes overlooked, in light of Foster's two Best Actress Oscars for a pair of her adult performances, how remarkable her career as a child actress was. She was not only a busy performer but also a versatile one, swinging from TV sitcoms to dramas with ease. In 1976 alone, she appeared in the films "Echoes of Summer", "Taxi Driver", Bugsy Malone", "Freaky Friday" and "The Little Girl Who Lives Down the Lane" and these were not small or undemanding parts! Here she plays the title character, a young teen residing in a large, leased home ostensibly under the care of her poet father. Soon, the question is raised as to whether her father is actually living there with her and, if he's not, what has become of him? A small assortment of local people come and go, each providing either reassurance or threat as her existence is examined. Sheen is a pathological jerk who has a thing for underage girls. He barges in uninvited and threatens her in a very tough and audacious manner. Smith plays his mother and the leasing agent for the house. She's every bit as imperious as her son, though she's clearly mortified by him and appalled by his behavior while retaining a mother's protectiveness of him. Jacoby is a mildly-disabled teen who befriends Foster in her hour of need, becoming a very important presence in her life. Shuman plays Jacoby's uncle, a friendly, undemanding policeman. As Foster ekes out her seemingly lonely life, she finds out that some people won't allow her that luxury while others make it clear to her that she'd rather enjoy the company of someone. At once a character study, a mystery and a thriller, this film has a few minor flaws, but remains captivating. Foster, outfitted in an unfortunately obvious wig, does an admirable job playing a girl about her own age in extraordinary circumstances. Foster, herself, seems as advanced as the impossibly adult-like character she's portraying. It's an eye-opening characterization and she handles it well. (There is one bizarro moment when her much older sister stands in for her in an unnecessary nude scene, displaying bikini tan lines that couldn't be remotely possible in the crisp, snowy setting of the film!) Sheen is just about as slimy as they come, conveying the idea that it's his right to come into a person's home and molest his daughter! Jacoby gives a strong performance, his quirky, tender persona providing a nice counterpoint to Foster's austerity. Shuman is very natural and believable in his part as well. One highlight of the film is the extraordinary turn by Smith. In her two brief scenes, she manages to inject a massive amount of subtext and a panorama of attitudes into her character. Looking terrific in a pair of Valentino-designed New England matron ensembles, she wrings every possible drop of interest and texture out of her role. Her scant screen time is a lesson in how to get the most out of every moment. It's an intriguing set-up and an enthralling film most of the time. There's a lack of plausibility at times and it's also startlingly obvious at others, but most viewers will find themselves hanging on to see how it ends. The fairly vague finale may not fully satisfy everyone, though.
This film was made in 1976, when thriller/suspense still had to have
some semblance of a plot; innuendo rather than special effects; decent
acting rather than explosions and violence.
And for that it is to be appreciated. Jodi Foster is very good as Rynn, a mysterious 13 year old who lives alone in a seaside town, somewhere off the coast of Massachusetts. Martin Sheen, as always, is excellent as a neighborhood creep, interested in Rynn, (he has some sort of criminal history against children).
Scott Jacoby is her peer, trying to help her live alone, and stay in the house her father has provided, although her father and mother have both mysteriously disappeared.
All in all an interesting theme, with some beautiful landscapes of the New England, and the beaches during winter. 8/10.
This is a wonderful movie!You can reach to the "little girl" and feel her solitude and, at times, you wish you were as strong as she is!The story in itself is great but the way it was directed, the set, the actors make you feel you are a part of it! There is no way to explain that story:you just have to discover it and you will understand,through the movie, the poetry of that "little girl"'s life who is not a "little girl",just someone who had to take care of her life from an early age surrounded by characters who just see a "bohemian child"from divorced parents in a little town where the so called low classed people have to be nobody in front of the single rich family! There is so much to tell and I don't want to spoil that movie!It is just great:you just have to feel!
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