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Little Children

Year: 2006
Studio: New Line Cinema
Director: Todd Field
Writer: Todd Field
Cast: Kate Winslet, Patrick Wilson, Jennifer Connelly
Stories about the dysfunction and unhappiness beneath the Formica sheen of suburbia are a dime a dozen, but occasionally – given the right script and cast – gems shine through the pack.

Little Children is a tangled web of screwed up people and the mess they've all made of their lives, trying not to hurt the people they love but trying to stay true to what they want – often the complete opposite of what they've got.

The movie felt like only Sarah (Winslet) and Brad's (Wilson) story to me, the other characters background against which it could be played out, and the asides such as local bully, bigot and ex cop Larry's backstory seemed like a distraction.

That might be because we see the pursuit of love as the most important story in this conflagration, or it might have been the chance to see more of Kate Winslet, as liberal with her willingness to disrobe for the camera as she is delectable.

Both unhappily married for very different reasons, Sarah and Brad are only the brightest characters in a very cleverly drawn group of them, and all they have to reach out to is each other.

The plot meanders but never lets go of you, and the story is heavy with symbolism; watch the pool empty out when they realised convicted child-flasher Ronnie as if someone's detected a contagious killer virus.

There are strong streaks of parody about the paranoid idiocy of the modern suburban 'community', and it all sits neatly aside a dozen stories of love gone wrong, lost or drained of colour.

Like American Beauty – a film it's been compared to often – I really responded to the theme of escaping middle class drudgery, but it doesn't end up the way you expect for anyone.

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