Wednesday, October 10, 2007
Digital Rewind: Little Children
Mary Ann: Oh that's nice. So now cheating on your husband makes you a feminist?
Sarah Pierce: 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.
I'm not going to lie, the first reason I added Little Children to my Netflix list is because I read about it on the A.V. Club's Inventory list of 14 Tragic Movie Masturbation Scenes, not knowing fully what the film was about. So it arrived with my weekly Netflix shipment and I sat down after my grueling Saturday morning to watch it. When I told my friend Cara that I was she told me to be prepared to be depressed.
She was right. But I wasn't outright, "I want to kill myself. My life sucks," depressed. It was more like I felt sorry for these characters, trapped in a world that they thought would be perfect. We've all been there. We've entered a situation that we thought would be perfect and we find out it's a shit hole. Except most of the time, we can escape. For Sarah (Kate Winslet) and Brad (Patrick Wilson) their escape for true happiness is hindered by their children. What would you do if you loved your child but hated everything else in your life? Would you give up what you love to have the thing you want?
I think the fact that children are a major part of the film makes it easier for everyone to watch. Set in a small suburban town, a former child molester named Ronnie (Jack Earl Haley) is released from jail and sent to live with his mother. Of course the town is in a panic. We see all those moms we grew up with: the ones whose lives revolve around their children and you just know that those kids are going to grow all kinds of messed up, and the moms that are totally cool but are the ones that we hate because they forget about us when we're little. And every one's freaked out in their own way. It is creepy that someone who exposed himself to a kid is right down the street from you. But what I liked about how director Todd Field shows Ronnie is that he's human. He hates that he did this in his life. He knows he's messed up and wants to become better. But he can't escape that stigmata. It really makes us as a viewer look at Ronnie in a different light. He's constantly under fire, whether it be physical from Larry (the self-appointed child protection group) or emotional (the glares of every parent in the area).
And what of Sarah and Brad? Both were formerly successful people and then...kids. Now they're stuck at home with their children while their spouses go out and live the lives they wish they could live. Some men and women want to stay home, which I totally respect. But Sarah and Brad are not one of those people. They don't hate their duty to their children, but they resent it. Playing with a three year old is not mentally stimulating. As the oldest cousin in a big family, I know from first hand experience it can be downright annoying. But you have to pay your dues. You know you were the same exact way when you were three and everyone had to deal with your needy ass. And now it's your turn. But Sarah and Brad never get a moment to themselves. And the moments they do get are few and far between. Instead of studying for the BAR, Brad watches skateboarders and wishes he was one of them. Sarah has her fitness walk with her friend in town where she can release her anger via strutting.
And of course they have each other. After meeting in the park, the two start a sexual affair that slowly turns more romantic. I honestly don't think they actually like each other, and it's more that they know they both need the same thing. They need to feel the hunger from another person, a hunger their spouses or their kids don't possess but they do. Brad even says in the film that he isn't even really attracted to Sarah. And why should he be? He's married to knock-out Jennifer Connelly. Sarah's husband...yeah. He's a character. Which is why she becomes more attached to Brad than he is to her.
I didn't even realize how long this movie was until it was over and I was like, "Holy shit, I have to start getting ready!" It does not feel like 2+ hours. You just get sucked into this little world and when it's over, you're jolted to reality and are thankful that that wasn't your life. It definitely showed me where I do not want to end up in ten years. Now I just need to figure out where I want to be in ten years...
Sidenote: The guy who plays Ronnie in this film is playing Rorschach and Patrick Wilson is playing Night Owl in Watchmen. Good casting, other than I think Patrick Wilson is too pretty for Night Owl. We'll see how the actual movie goes. Tell me why again we're letting Zach Snyder direct this?