Film Review: Little Children by Todd Field

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“Little Children” is a romantic film produced by New Line Films. Directed by Todd Field and starring Kate Winslet and Patrick Wilson, it was released in the US on November 3, 2006. The story takes place in a small wealthy community in a small town in Massachusetts. The camera starts with the chatter of four young mothers sitting together. Compared with the other three women, who are all croaking and chattering, Sarah Pierce appears to be much more quiet. She looks at her daughter and seems to be lost in deep thought. Then came a dashing young father, Brad Adamson, famous among young mothers.

Sarah bet with three other female friends that she can get Brad’s phone number, and then Sarah not only gets Brad’s phone number, but also forcefully kisses him. It was this kiss that brought two unrelated people together so quickly and so closely. Gradually, Sarah and Brad’s dissatisfaction with their shallow lives begins to surface. Once a graduate student majoring in English and American literature and an activist for gender equality at her university, Sarah now sadly finds herself a worthless housewife. When she found her husband Robert was addicted to internet porn, she felt more gloomy and hopeless.

Brad was a policeman but also feels depressed because of his wife Kathy. Kathy forced Brad to continue his education, but instead of spending his evenings in the library, he spent playing soccer with his former cop buddy Larry. So, they found an excuse to meet again and again, in the hot summer, after they and their children spent countless peaceful afternoons together, finally surrendered to desire. On the other hand, the town’s apparent calmness has been shaken by the emergence of Ronnie James McGoway, a former child molestation prisoner. All the mothers in the community are up against each other, and the real conflict erupts when Sarah and Brad innocently invite Robert and Kathy to have a family dinner.

At the dinner table, Sarah slips up and Kathy confirms what she has long suspected about her husband’s infidelity. Chaos has officially descended on the small, already sweltering town. “Little Children” is not so much a complex love-hate drama between two couples in a languid marriage as a concrete insight into the lives of ordinary people. Director Todd Field keeps a cool, compassionate eye on the crowd as it spins out of control through heart-stopping choices. And the visual enjoyment presented by the picture and the moving mirror is so beautiful in the tragic style that it makes people confused and moved.

The film does a good job of capturing the essence of the original, blending satire with a sensitive and slightly neurotic portrayal of love. The film is animated by the group performances of its four main characters, Kate Winslet, Jackie Earle Haley, Patrick Wilson and Jennifer Connelly. The plot of the film is more appealing than the narration, and it deeply expresses the struggle and search, insecurity and anxiety of the middle class in the face of the ideal and reality. “Little Children” is an interesting film, even drawing on Hitchcock’s thriller elements. The actors in this film make this film funny, sexy and sad.

End of Watch by Stephen King

Only a mind like Stephen King could catalyze such strange, thrilling storylines and concepts as those presented in his 2016 novel, the third and final installment of the Bill Hodges trilogy, End of Watch. I admit, I began reading the novel blindly with no background on the previous two installments of the series but was appeased by the fact that King was extremely articulate in giving background on the origins of the trilogy, which easily made End of Watch a more enjoyable and smooth read.

End of Watch features a diverse array of characters, centering on retired Detective Bill Hodges as he juggles monumental health issues and an even more monumental case: a large stretch of suicides sharing a single common link, a handheld video game console with a strangely hypnotic effect. Hodges and his makeshift team — his current and former partners, Holly Gibney and Pete Huntley, and his lawnboy-turned-friend, Jerome — follow the sinister paths taken by Brady Hartsfield, the culprit of the so-called “Mercedes Massacre” that King created for the first book of the trilogy, Mr. Mercedes.

Through pages of suspense and moment after moment of action and mystery from King’s wild imagination, to the saddening farewell of the final pages, End of Watch brings the classic Stephen King “stranded in the murk” feeling, leaving us wandering stone-blind and never knowing when the next plot twist or mind-bending connection will strike. The premise made for King’s legendary style without a hitch and makes us consider the possibilities before swiping to play a video game again.

Upon closing the final curtain and concluding my journey with the characters in the book, I was struck with two very different realizations: the frightening reality of suicide cases across the globe and the authentic ties between friendships. Every character had a unique interaction with each other, which only made the story even more realistic, and consequently, all the more chilling.

So be careful next time you play a new game of Fishin’ Hole — or read a Stephen King novel — you might find it hypnotizing.

—Keira D.

End of Watch by Stephen King is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It can also be downloaded for free from Overdrive