Monday, August 13, 2007

America, the Messed Up

Movie Review -- out on dvd

The compelling fascination of director Todd Fields’ Little Children — a suspense thriller that wants to be too many other things — is its ultimate downfall. It is another of those cinematic examinations of a tattered post-feminist landscape in upscale suburbia. Here, it is once again okay for women to raise children and meet in the park to gossip. Here, too, it is okay for a man who aspires to practice law but has yet to pass a bar exam to do the home stuff while his wife, a documentary film maker, brings home the bread. That woman, by the way, has a strange fetish for letting their younger child sleep between her and her thus-denied spouse. Here, too, it is okay for a bored married woman (whose husband pleasures himself in front of computer porno) to go after the sexually deprived married dad at the park. An affair ensues. Oh, yes, also starring is a kinky single man, recently out of prison for indecent exposure to children (though he has never touched a child), living with his protective mother. The strange loner, who still calls his mother "Mommy," is hounded and harassed 24/7 by a retired cop (retired after accidentally killing a boy in the line of duty). Let’s see, did I get all the plot elements? Well, most. The movie enthralls terrifically as we wonder how these story lines will mature. But in the end, the writers, gasping for an operatic climax, bring the conflicts into one crashing intersection that is a little too simplistically realized. And one that stretches character credibility. I found the Hollywood-styled closure muddled and contrived, and it left me wondering what this movie is really about. Something about the boys in men? About the women in women? Well, no, there is the one woman who carries on more like a predatory teenager. Was life always this complicated, or has modern American society, chronically liberated and still unhappy, rendered itself this pitifully out of order?



henry edgar said...

actually, this sounds intriguing!

Showbiz David said...

Terifically intriguing. I just wish it had gone in another direction. A lot of the critics loved the direction it went in, though.