Todd Field’s follow-up to his
The Bedroom’, ‘Little Children’ is another literary adaptation
about American bourgeois discontent brought to the surface by dark deeds. The
setting is the wealthy suburb of East Wyndam, Massachusetts. Kate Winslet is
Sarah, frustrated housewife to a little-seen businessman. Patrick Wilson
(‘Angels in America’) is perennial law student and stay-at-home dad Brad, whose
prom-king looks make him an object of playground fascination for Sarah and the
coven of moms with whom she shares afternoon breaks. Neither, it turns out, is
best pleased with their lot or ready to entirely relinquish their wellbeing and
desires to their children’s. Meanwhile, a sex offender has been released into
the gossipy community, where finger-pointing takes precedence over
With its unhurried pace and ultra-knowing narration (Sarah’s daughter is described as ‘this unknowable little person’), there’s no missing the film’s origins in co-writer Tom Perrotta’s source novel, with its own explicit nods to ‘Madame Bovary’. Winslet and Wilson make for sympathetically conflicted leads and the first half offers quietly biting observations on over-parenting and under-directed lives, with the amorphous scapegoat of the sex offender making an efficient lightning rod for various anxieties and prejudices. The photography, editing and sound design are intelligent and pointed, too. But the narrative structure is less satisfying, straying from the central dynamic to somewhat laboured subplots before careening back to a melodramatic climax.
Theatrical Release: September 1st, 2006 (Telluride Film Festival)
DVD Review: New Line Home Video - Region 1 - NTSC
|DVD Box Cover||
CLICK to order from:
|Distribution||New Line Home Video - Region 1 - NTSC|
Average Bitrate: 7.24 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s
NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.
|Audio||English (Dolby Digital 5.1), English (Dolby Digital 2.0)|
|Subtitles||English, Spanish, None|
With thanks to a generous buddy I was fortunate enough to see Little Children at one of its initial premieres at the 2006 Toronto Film Festival. Director Field, star Winslet and others of the cast were in attendance and there was a Q+A afterward. Although my initial reaction to the film was disappointment - it was more a function of my stratospheric expectation after Field's previous film In The Bedroom, - which I considered one of the better cinema efforts of the past decade. Since then Little Children has grown on me and I have even recommended it to certain friends. So I was anxious to view it again to re-evaluate. This DVD helped produce a much more positive response and I was especially impressed with Field's mis-en-scene. I'll agree with some critics that it is shade ambitious but certainly entertaining and thought provoking. I feel that this is far better than most Hollywood movies released at present.
The New Line DVD is as strong as you might expect from a modern film. It is anamorphic, progressive with strong colors - dual-layered with a high bitrate and the transfer is tight to the frame edges. It has good detail and healthy contrast with no apparent digital manipulations. The 5.1 audio track is never strongly tested but rear-channel background noise (as in the pool scene) were nicely separated. There are optional Spanish or English subtitles.
The DVD has no supplements which is quite head-scratching. Why some form of commentary (possibly by Field) or additional interviews couldn't have been added is a real shame and extras are certainly conspicuous by their absence. Many will get a lot out of this film but New Line should be ashamed for the price they are flogging this with no real effort put into the DVD development.