Little Children (2006) Poster

User Reviews

Add a Review
327 ReviewsOrdered By: Helpfulness
Thoreau had it right.
A_Roode8 November 2006
I was walking home the other evening having just watched this at the theatre. Two guys were ahead of me on the street and had just seen it as well. Not intending to listen in on their conversation ... I did anyway, *LOL*. One asked his friend what he thought about the movie and the second took a moment to think about it. His answer? "Twisted man, too twisted!" Thoreau wrote in Walden that "the mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation." In 'Little Children,' we see that quiet desperation played out to full effect by desperate housewives, ex-cons and damaged loners. A deep study of loneliness, 'Little Children' is morally ambiguous and doesn't judge. It uses humour, it uses dread, and it is a film that is at times quirky, intelligent and ultimately fascinating.

I liked a lot of things about this movie and in the week since I saw it, I've grown to like it more. Thematically it should have been a terrible downer: a collection of people who've all settled into what seems like the beginning of the end. They've married, started having kids and every single one of them wakes up in the morning with dread. "Is this all that is left?" They have become, or more importantly, believe that they have become completely purposeless in the next of a continuing doldrum of empty days. Eternity awaits and eternity is purposeless existential hell.

What is remarkable about a film whose subject should be so bleak, is the warmth and humour within it. Characters in 'Little Children' reject the lack of purpose, the unhappiness and try to re-inject a passion for life that they once had. At its most extreme, the quest for passion and purpose is lead by Noah Emmerich -- certainly most of the humour comes from his character. Winslet, Wilson and Emmerich are all flawed (who isn't?) but sympathetic. And then there is Jackie Earle Haley.

How difficult must it have been to play a convicted sex offender who is both repellent and *gasp* sympathetic? If you're Jackie Earle Haley and you are stealing a film away from bigger stars and you've got a great part, then apparently it isn't very hard at all. Creepy, potentially dangerous but also fairly benign and pitiable, Haley gives a much over-looked performance in what is quickly becoming a much over-looked film. He has given what I think is one of the best performances this year, and what is certainly the best performance of his entire career.

'Little Children' is "twisted man, too twisted" but it is also very good and very compelling. Well worth the risk and extremely well paced. It was only after the film had ended that I noticed how long the film was. Completely engrossing, I recommend it highly.
52 out of 57 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
One of The Best Romance Movies I Have Ever Seen
Malthe Tuxen1 July 2017
Warning: Spoilers
I don't even know where to start with this movie, it really is something I have never seen before. Both the darkness and the romance in this movie makes it something you won't forget in a very long time. It is really amazing how the movie both can be extremely disturbing and also extremely beautiful, in even the same scenes. For me this movie is an almost perfect masterpiece, it had it flaws but all in all, this was an amazing movie.

One of the reasons why I think it is a masterpiece, is because it is so different from the movies that are being made now, and it sends a message most movies would not dare to send. It truly shows humanity from all sides, both the disgusting things we do, and the beautiful things we do. I can't remember the last time I actually cared for a child abuser in a movie, but somehow this movie manages to show all sides of all the people in it.

I really think this is one of the most beautiful movies of the 2000's I can't personally find one thing to dislike about it. It manages to explore everything from love to sexuality, regret, family, and so much more. The story is just genius, and it is both one of the saddest stories I can remember, and of the most beautiful stories I remember. The way this movie shows people for what they truly are much more real then most romance movies, even the sad ones. I basically can only say good things about this movie.

It got some of the best performances I have seen in a long time, both by some very famous actors and some I have never seen before. First Kate Winslet gives maybe her best performance yet, as the sad loving mother that has a very complicated family life. Patrick Wilson also gives a really great performance as the young dad, who falls in love with Kate Winslet. And of course, Jennifer Connelly also gives an amazing performance, that in my mind deserved much more time on screen. There were also many great performances by unknown actors, like Jackie Earl Haley as the extremely complicated child abuser , or Noah Emmerich as the ex-cop dealing with the past.

For me this movie is perfect and it is like something I have never seen before. Just know that this is not really a tragedy, but you will be in tears when the movie stops. I wanna finish by saying this movie is a modern masterpiece, and I would recommend to everyone. I hope you found this review helpful and I hope you will love the movie as much as I do. 10/10
15 out of 15 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Suburban Paradise Lost
"You couldn't change the past," the narrator of Little Children tells us at the movie's close, "but the future could be a different story." The lives of the men and women who live in the very paragon of bland suburbia appear to be crunchy (and even somewhat unforgiving) on the outside, but inside they break, well, just like a little girl. A veritable sea of emotions, from love, despair, neglect, and hate churns below their pristine, everything-in-its-place veneers.

The placidity of this particular neighborhood is jolted by two things: the arrival of a sex offender (Jackie Earle Haley) and the emergence of a relationship between married-but-not-to-each-other Sarah and Brad; both events, directly and obliquely, are remarked upon by the nattering nabobs of middle-class conservatism in the town, particularly the rather particular hausfraus and soccer moms.

Sarah Pierce (Winslet) is a distant mother and wife; when she and her daughter Lucy visit the neighborhood playground, she sits away from the other mothers. As an indirect result, Lucy doesn't play with the other boys and girls on the see-saws or merry-go-round - she just plays quietly. Meanwhile, as the empty-headed women babble to each other (but not Sarah), a newcomer enters their midst - a stay-at-home father, Brad, whom they mockingly call (behind his back, of course) "The Prom King." Sarah's marriage seems empty and devoid of purpose. Brad, for his part, is married to a breadwinner - his wife Karen (Jennifer Connelly) is a documentary filmmaker who's completely absorbed with her work. Like Sarah, Brad is a little emotionally distant from his wife and their son, Aaron, so it's no wonder he and Sarah become constant companions throughout the long, hot suburban summer, spending their days either at the park or at the public pool.

The other main story thread involves the community's reaction to the presence of Ronnie McGorvey, convicted as a sex offender for flashing a young boy. Soon, there are fliers on telephone poles, and an angry outrage group is formed, led by ex-policeman Larry (Noah Emmerich), who seems to be more upset with Ronnie's existence than anyone else in the town.

At its core, the movie is about repression and "settling" - staying with someone just because they provide you comfort but no love is no reason at all, the film explains. Committing adultery just might be an okay act, even with children involved, as long as it means a better life for the principals. Brad and Sarah transform from nodding acquaintances to good friends who take care of their kids together (Aaron and Lucy even grow to become friends, although up to that point they'd both been loners.) When the opportunity arises for them to become more, though, they take it - an act that's not easy to conceal from the prying eyes of the neighbors, let alone their respective spouses and certainly not their children. How long, if at all, can they possibly hope to maintain the charade that they're just friends? Perhaps the thought that their own, current marriages are charades in their own right gives Sarah and Brad reason to believe they can perpetuate the sham against their spouses.

Meanwhile, Ronnie attempt to cope with living as a sex offender. He lives with his doting mom, who believes there is good in everyone; she realizes that what Ronnie did was wrong, but that it was an accident, and she tries in vain to protect him from the rest of the community, which is by and large out to lynch him. But the brilliant caveat here is that Ronnie is by no means a victim - not only did he do what he was accused of (although he shows remorse and a lot of self-hate), but he shows that he's capable of more of the same.

In fact, that's the genius of Todd Field's film - not only are people flawed, but they're believably flawed. In Little Children, people make decisions for selfish reasons, and there's no wondrous epiphany that somehow saves the soul and good standing of the poor decision maker - people live with what they've done, or they don't make the decision in the first place.

Winslet and Haley were nominated for their work here; the first-ever nomination for Haley, who was probably best known as Kelly Leak in the Bad News Bears films. He's eerie and creepy and utterly human as Ronnie McGorvey. You never really feel sympathy for the deviant, but you might feel a twinge of unease. For Winslet, this was the fifth nomination for the beauteous Briton, and it's astounding that she hasn't yet won. Then again, she's only 31 years old! Little Children is a stark, seamless, unsettling story that grabs a hold of your psyche and twists it almost to the breaking point, relying on strong performances by Winslet, Haley, Wilson, and Emmerich as well as a tortuous plot that provides quite a jaded look at the tranquility of suburban life.
46 out of 54 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
soccer.goalie@verizon.net21 October 2006
Out of all the "Oscar Bait" films I've seen this year, this film beats them all. Little Children is an unbelievable masterpiece about what it means to grow up. This idea is brilliantly portrayed through characters - while categorized as "adults" - have yet to outgrow certain adolescent stages.

Brad is a man who never got the chance to experience the spotlight in his youth, and now he desperately craves attention, acknowledgment, or admiration in any form.

Sarah is a woman who never learned how to grow past her own selfishness. She is angry at her daughter for needing attention when all Sarah wants is some time to herself.

Larry is a man who still harbors bully-like tendencies, and desperately just wants to fit in and be one of the guys. This is seen through his treatment of Ronnie - the pedophile who was just released from prison and returned to the neighborhood.

Ronnie is the dangerous man. The man who cannot connect with people his own age and seeks sexual gratification with children or with people who - like him - cannot fit into the adult world.

This isn't an action moving - it's an interaction movie. The scenes between characters have you nailed to your seat and deeply invested. The characters interact within their small community, and their actions with each other build into a climatic explosion that forces them all to face truths about themselves, and - finally - accept their responsibilities as mothers, husbands, fathers, and humans. This accepting is what separates little children from adults, immature from mature.

The tale is moving, sad, hilarious, dark, breathtaking, thought-provoking and many other creative adjectives. It forces you to reevaluate your idea of yourself and your thoughts on others. It forces you to see people you would normally loath and dismiss in a differently light. This a movie you will come out of changed. If you only see one film a higher, I cannot recommend this one more.
334 out of 434 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Perversely Yours
axlgarland17 February 2007
Warning: Spoilers
Bedrooms still play an important part in Todd Field universe but this time there is an outing, intellectual and emotional, that overwhelms in the apparent patina of familiarity. "Little Children" sizzles with an uncomfortable sense of impending doom. Kate Winslet, through her later day Madame Bovary, gives us a character that is recognisable and never seen before at the same time. Powerfully honest to the point of self destruction and yet, her feelings seem so clear and pure, so innocent. Kate Winslet in a superlative performance, invites us to believe that a human being can inhabit that contradiction without seem absurd. Patrick Wilson's courage without brains or vice versa is an uncomfortable pleasure to watch. Jennifer Connelly has one of the most chilling domestic moments I've seen in a long time: a moment of realisation at a dinner table. Contradictions, perhaps, are at the centre of this wonderfully conceived universe, Weary of domestic bliss. compassion for a child molester. Jack Earle Haley's psycho is not played for sympathy - he is a horrible character. He and his mother, the great Phyllis Somerville - are a realistic version of a Hitchcockian coupling. Adult entertainment, yes entertainment too, of the first order.
86 out of 107 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
A Highly Unusual and Exceptional Film
evanston_dad23 October 2006
Warning: Spoilers
Can there be such a thing as a feel-good movie about marital infidelity and suburban ennui? If so, then I believe this haunting, powerful and superb new movie from Todd Field may be it.

A feel-good movie was not in the least what I was expecting from this, based on the trailers and on Field's prior film, the astringent and depressing "In the Bedroom." And it's not like I left the theatre feeling the need to break into song. But unlike other films about the stultifying atmosphere of suburban America, and the prisons so many people seem to make out of their domestic worlds, "Little Children" ends with a distinct feeling of hope and optimism. In other domestic dramas, the characters are frequently unlikable, and they appear to drift through their worlds allowing things to happen to them without taking any responsibility for themselves. In "Little Children," Field does not present us with a handful of caustic stereotypes, but rather with a cast of actors who create warm but flawed human beings. These characters don't drift through life. They have things they care about, and they want and feel that they deserve some of the small happinesses that all human beings have a right to. But they also screw up, make bad decisions, act irrationally. What saves them, and the movie, is that in the end they all wake up, realize they're chasing dreams, and decide to make something of the lives they have rather than the lives they think they want.

I thought this was a hopeful message, and one that carries with it a tremendous impact in this post-9/11 culture, when the safety nets on which we've built our existences have been ripped out from under us and we're left trying to make sense of a scary world. This film, in its closing moments, states outright that there's no time like now to begin taking control of our own worlds and making of them what we want. The best weapon we can wield against an uncertain future are our children, who can learn from our mistakes and make something new rather than simply repeat an endless cycle.

As for the acting.....Kate Winslet shines as Sarah, the suburban mom who doesn't fit in and embarks upon a reckless affair to fill a void in her days. Her performance is one of those small triumphs of acting, in which Winslet builds a living, breathing human being from the ground up through a series of subtle and thoughtful choices. Patrick Wilson, such a limp noodle in the screen version of "The Phantom of the Opera," is pitch perfect as Brad, the stud who attracts Sarah's eye. And the other actors take full advantage of their smaller roles: Jennifer Connelly as Brad's loving but distracted wife; Jackie Earle Haley as the film's most tragic figure, Noah Emmerich as an ex-cop who takes homeland security into his own hands; and Phyllis Somerville, who has a couple of beautifully heart-breaking moments as the mom of an outcast.

The screenplay is thematically elaborate. There's hardly an element of one character's storyline that doesn't find a parallel in the storyline of another. The theme of parenting is of course central, but beyond simply focusing on the responsibilities parents owe their children, the film goes deeper and examines how parents' behavior affects their children and the extent to which parents can change the world for good or bad through what they hand down to the children who inherit it.

A bracing, fantastic film.

Grade: A+
175 out of 235 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
The Future Can Be a Different Story
Claudio Carvalho8 January 2008
In the suburbs, the boredom Sarah Pierce (Kate Winslet) lives a dull marriage without love with her selfish husband Richard Pierce (Gregg Edelman), who is successful in his career but with awful sexual habits. She spends the mornings with her daughter Lucy (Sadie Goldstein) in the playground observing the behavior of the suburban mothers with their children. When Sarah sees the frisson caused by the handsome "househusband" Brad Adamson (Patrick Wilson) in the other women, she decides to talk to him. Brad tells her that he has failed twice in the Bar exams for lawyer and he is financially supported by his wife Kathy (Jennifer Connelly), who is a documentary filmmaker. He omits that Kathy is a woman that gives all her attention to their son Aaron (Ty Simpkins), refusing to have sex with him. Sarah feels trapped in her unhappy life and has an affair with Brad, who is the opposite of Richard, in the afternoons. Meanwhile, the pervert Ronnie J. McGorvey (Jackie Earle Haley), who was in prison for indecent exposure, returns to his mother's house and feels the prejudice of his community against his presence, especially from the retired policeman Larry Hedges (Noah Emmerich) that is trying to force Ronnie to move away from their neighborhood.

"Little Children" is an extremely well-acted movie that uses a modern adaptation of Madame Bovary to the present days in the American suburbs. The boredom condition of Emma Bovary and Sarah Pierce are very similar, both fell trapped in an unhappy marriage, and have love affairs to escape from their boredom. This movie really deserved the nomination to the Oscar in the categories of Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role, with Jackie Earle Haley having a top-notch performance in the role of a deranged sick man; Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role to the stunning Kate Winslet, one my favorite and best actress ever – my only remark is that, at least for my eyes and taste, she is a charming and beautiful woman, and apparently Sarah Pierce is a plain woman; and Best Writing, Adapted Screenplay, to Todd Field and Tom Perrotta that were able to perfectly develop a complex story with entwined lives of many characters in an adequate pace and eroticism. In the end, "Little Children" is one of those unforgettable and highly recommended movies. My vote is eight.

Title (Brazil): "Pecados Íntimos" ("Intimate Sins")
44 out of 55 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Jackie Earle Haley is outstanding!
conlaw21 October 2006
Director Todd Field satirizes western society and exposes our fundamental flaw as a society. We are a country of self-righteous hypocrites who band together to crush evil wherever it may be found but overlook our own weaknesses.

The story on one level is exceedingly banal: it shifts from scene to scene exposing the triviality of day to day life. Yet there is that haunting sound of an approaching train. Are we witnessing a train wreck? The brilliant use of a narrator lulls us into the belief that this is just a children's story and nothing bad will happen. Yet our eyes are glued to the screen as we await the crash.

Jackie Earle Haley as Ronnie exposes everything that is wrong with our modern world and everything that is right about character acting. He gives a stand out performance definitely worthy of Oscar consideration. The character represents an unknown evil in our community, one that must be sought out and destroyed. His character at times is sympathetic, even lovable and other other times hideous and menacing.

But who is more detestable? Is it Ronnie or is it those infinitely boring (but beautiful) adulterers, Sarah (Kate Winslet) or Brad (Patrick Wilson)? Is it up to us to judge? If we do, are we not being like the suburban community that is the metaphor for our society? In that way, Director Todd Fields includes us in the movie whether we know it or not. This is a wonderful (train) ride that will keep us talking for days. It is one of this year's great movies.
199 out of 273 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
remarkable film
indianfroggie28 October 2006
Just remarkable, because it goes in split second from laughter to deep tragic shock without affecting the credibility of the story, back and forth.

Every actor has been brilliantly directed and it is a gallery of portrays, not just two actors leading the story. I found myself so affected by it because of the sheer unpredictable storyline going to predictable then going back to the unknown.

You will watch how people whirl themselves into their own actions and then try to find a way out of these consequences. Then they free themselves at times, to trap themselves next. Absolutely brilliant, with an array of emotions succeeding to one another.

Visually sumptuous. People stayed in the theater and talked about it.

Looking back, you feel afterward how much love and dedication from director, crew and actors went into it. Just a stunning, beautiful movie.
167 out of 239 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
very smart about Little Adults, with odd screw-ups
Chris Newfield29 December 2006
Warning: Spoilers
This movie does a wonderful job of representing the undertow of confusion and stuckness that threatens to pull people under. It cuts among interlocking stories that each center on someone who is about to dive down beneath their established life, and for entirely normal, believable reasons. 45 minutes into the film, all the main characters have thrown themselves into the vortex, creating the uneasy fear one feels for people who are about to risk everything they've deliberately built up in order to end a sense of suffocation that is much less concrete than the secure surface of their lives, but somehow more real. This is strong suspense film about that crucial question of whether or not our own happy lives actually make us feel alive.

The movie covers an updated version of Cheever territory - the despair beneath the comforts of American suburbia. "Little Children" is better than "American Beauty" and "The Ice Storm," and is intelligent about the effects of thwarted desire in the way of Todd Haynes's "Safe." It has the eerie disorientation of "The Swimmerj" It's particularly shrewd about the original source of romantic yearning itself. The film's real "LIttle Children" are the parents from two different families who fall in love with each other. They are the stay-at-home Mom and the Mr. Mom who re-marry each other informally at the neighborhood pool where they spend every summer day taking care of their adorable kids. Together they are as bland as they are in their actual marriage. Their interest in each other doesn't unearth some suppressed power or depth in themselves, which is always the assumption behind the affair. It reflects their mutual wish to recapture the unrestricted experience they associate with childhood - no bar exams, no dissertations to finish, no spouses with budgets or habits of Internet wankfests at the work computer. You can see the affair coming with the first encounter between these two fair-haired parents who are the bored and aimless and also subordinate to their focused and competent spouses in each of their marriages. Unlike the breadwinners, these two are still looking for what they want to do in life. When they seem to find that thing in their daily poolside parenting and then later in their daily sex, they are put by the film into strict parallel with their preschool kids sharing their afternoon naps. It's a nice dream - play and sleep, play and sleep, all feeling unforced and unchangingly attractive, every day happily the same. As if.

The other true thing about the movie is that Sarah and Brad (Winsett and Wilson) resolve to run off together and then chicken out and chicken out accidentally-on-purpose, in ways that allow them to go "home" to their focused, successful spouses who are capable of taking care of them, and yet go home without acknowledging to themselves that this is what they really want. Sarah concocts a panic attack when her child wanders out of her sight for five minutes in the nighttime park where she had gone to meet Brad. Brad interrupts his trip to destiny to fulfill his wannabe skateboarder dreams, injuring his beautiful body and giving himself the perfect excuse never to try anything again. Lots and lots of us finally stand up for ourselves only to take this kind of dive right away, as soon as we decently can. One reason is that we stood up for the wrong thing, even though it took us forever to do so.

So can the problems be overlooked? Well let's inventory them. The movie polarizes straight and sensitive suburbia in a phony way. The other moms are stereotypes of sexual repression, living on the edge of hysteria. When Brad and Sarah first kiss in front of them (on a jokey dare from Sarah), the moms grab up their kids and flee just as the neighborhood moms do later at the pool when the registered sex offender is found swimming around with a mask and snorkel. The same false polarity infects the original marriages: the dominant spouses are so disconnected from their partners that you wonder how they could have been married for even a few weeks: why would a phony, money-grubbing "brander" ever have married a failed English lit PhD student, or vice versa, and why would a smart documentary maker ever marry the pretty but super-dull Brad, whose soul can be filled through the camaraderie of night-league football? In the film's clunkiest moment, Ronnie, the sex offender, has a date with an attractive, clinically-depressed thirtysomething (played well by Jane Adams), bonds with her in a sympathetic, fraternal way, and then as she's praising their conversation in the car starts to jerk off and threaten her like a possessed maniac. The moment destroys the analogy between criminalized and "normal" perversion that had helped to humanize Ronnie (his mother is the film's strongest single character, played brilliantly by Phyllis Somerville). His auto-mutilation at the end just reproduces the suburban sexual hysteria the film supposedly critiques. Equally implausible is that his tormentor, the other unloved man, ex-cop and night-league loser Larry, turns into his rescuer: this is the kind of instant redemption that the basic intelligence of this film would rule out. The problem is the film undermines the quasi-heroic struggles of their flawed main characters - Ronnie, Brad, and Sarah - so that their weak and pathetic ends make the earlier dramas seem unreal in retrospect. If they fold THIS easily, then what were we watching the previous two hours.

The men in this film - ouch. They are useless and dangerous by turns. The women are suffocated and unhappy. The American middle-class comes off badly - spoiled, unfocused, and without the strength to save itself or anybody else. We are, the movie says, the little children of world.
16 out of 19 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
An error has occured. Please try again.

See also

Awards | FAQ | User Ratings | External Reviews | Metacritic Reviews