Best Picture

16 May 2007

We watched Little Children tonight. It’s a film about love and loss, about the rich, textured lives hidden in plain view throughout American suburbia. It’s a quiet film, where more occurs in a single exchange of glances than occur in five minutes of a Peter Jackson film.

Little Children tells the story of four people:

  • Sarah – A young mother in her second marriage, living with a man she neither loves nor respects.
  • Brad – A stay-at-home dad searching for meaning.
  • Larry – A former cop.
  • Ronnie – A convicted sex offender recently released from prison.

These people live in the same neighborhood. Their lives twine and mingle. And always in the background are the little children. I’m reluctant to say more because I don’t want to spoil anything.

Little Children is a sad and melancholy film, but it’s also filled with hope. It’s about finding joy and happiness and meaning. Ultimately it’s about how we, as adults, are still little children.

That should have been Best Picture,” Kris said when the film was over. That is a stunning endorsement from a woman who refuses to pass judgement on a movie until days have passed. But I agree. The story is subtle, filled with finely drawn characters, layers of tension, and dialogue that rings true. There are no bad guys. There are no good guys. There’s just life.

Little Children was directed by Todd Field (a Portland native), and written by Field and Tom Perrotta, who wrote the novel on which the film was based. Other similar movies from recent years include:

Films like this are divisive. They observe life, they explore the nooks and crannies of Everyday. Some people (like Jenn G. and Tiffany) find them depressing. Others (like Nick) find them boring. Some (like Jeff) find them pointless. These are all valid complaints.

I think they’re spectacular. They peel back the skin of daily life to reveal what lies beneath, all of the unspoken desires and emotions. They’re like modern literature put to the screen.

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