Monday, May 21, 2007

Overcooked Suburban Malaise

Roughly the first 45 minutes of Little Children, Todd Field's film adaptation of Tom Perrotta's novel of the same name, is wonderful. Field has a real flair for capturing and depicting the languidly enchanted quality of suburbs in the summertime. His sound design work is also finely crafted, frequently taking diegetic sources and subtly manipulating them to reinforce the narrative. And one of Little Children's strokes of genius is having Will Lyman of PBS's Frontline provide voice over narration, his rich authoritative voice giving a surreal gravity to the characters inner lives. What starts with so much promise, however, ends in a heap of overwrought, hackneyed silliness.

One of the films conceits is that Kate Winslet's character,
Sarah, is a plain Jane type, maybe even a little homely. The filmmakers do their best to make her look frumpy by putting her in overalls and without makeup. But by trying to disguise Winslet's beauty they end up making it even more apparent.

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