When I watch a film I am more concerned with the story and characters. A good film helps you to enter the lives of a character you would not expect to identify with. This was a film introduced to me by a friend and I really enjoyed it as disturbing as it was sometimes.
It's very hard for a filmmaker to have their characters receive sympathy from an audience when those characters have been involved in detestable acts. In the film "Little Children" the acts perpetrated by the main characters are not the focus. Like all of us each character is filled with dreams, fantasies and the need to be loved receive sympathy at their lowest points and breakdown.
The film begins with a news report of the release of a man from prison who served time for indecent exposure. The man is named Ronnie and he becomes the boogie man for the parents of his neighborhood.
Sarah (Kate Winslet) is an unhappy mother and housewife with a husband addicted to porn and one porn star in particular. Brad(Patrick Wilson) is a stay at home father emasculated by his wife. This is realized with the imagery of the son's crown, a gift from his father, falling to the floor as soon as his mother comes home.
Brad's dream is to be one of the guys having fun. He watches skateboarders when he is supposed to be studying for what traps him, the Bar Exam. He is soon asked to join a football team. It becomes very serious shown with panning close over the individual faces of the football team.
Brad and Sarah eventually meet in a park where they take their children. As they discover that the other is unhappy they seek some sort of comfort in each other. Brad's wife makes a phone call to empty house. We know that Brad is out with Sarah, but she has no idea and the sincerity in her voice is an example of this film's excellent acting.
Brad's line "Beauty is overrated" was a statement I thought summed up the film. It's irrelevant. The beauty of Brad's wife is not part of what he wants in life anymore.
The film uses a narrator. Voice overs are lazy in story telling, but these were to tell the inner thoughts of a character.
Each character searching for freedom.
Returning to life after their escape is shown through uncomfortable interactions with others they left behind.
The football game was well shot and close on the actions of the players. At the touchdown of the focus on Brad was shattered the screams of Sarah then zooming in to her in the stands. She is now a full part of his fantasy/dream.
There is excellent foreshadowing of the death of Ronnie's mother with a quick cut to black. Ronnie has a breakdown after the death of the mother in a wide shot of him destroying a room.
As said to be the solution by multiple characters throughout the film. Ronnie castrates himself in a horrifying reveal, The bully is redeemed while trying to save him from death due to excessive bleeding. Everything falling apart is a way to examine the individual pieces and put them back together in a more functional order.