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                   5.   LITTLE CHILDREN


                                                                                 (Photo and poster: New Line Productions)

By Omar P.L. Moore/The Popcorn Reel

A film of undeniable power and deeply thought-provoking, Todd Field's "Little Children" is a sharp and witty adult drama -- the best American adult drama of the year.  Suburban Massachusetts is the backdrop for the nefarious interactions within a small New England town, where the adults are racked with fear, running away from -- or running to -- the places where they feel most comfortable.  Fear, suspicion and infidelity immerse the landscape, and Mr. Field's writing and direction are razor sharp, so much so that there is an intensely claustrophobic feel to his film. 

Tom Perrotta co-wrote the screenplay for "Little Children", which was adapted from his own novel of the same title.  The pacing of story, the sense of atmosphere, the palpable feelings of guilt, distance, longing, self-righteousness, hope, failure and despair are constantly flickering through the actors (Kate Winslet, Jennifer Connelly, Patrick Wilson, Noah Emmerich, Phyllis Somerville and Jackie Earle Haley -- whose character Ronnie is an unforgettable presence.)  The film has a fairly-tale/National Geographic documentary-type narration to it, which feels like a satirical element that gives the film a certain grounding and edginess at the same time -- the narration is purposeful and sparing.  The characters, none of whom are blameless in this remarkable adult exploration, seem barely able to breathe in their trapped surroundings -- and this appears to be by design.  For sure, this intelligent work is one that will stay in your mind for quite some time after the end credits -- and it merits a second (or even third) viewing.

The PopcornReel.com film review of "Little Children" first appeared on October 20, 2006.

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