Little Children (film)

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Little Children
Little children post.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Todd Field
Produced by Todd Field
Albert Berger
Ron Yerxa
Screenplay by Todd Field
Tom Perrotta
Based on Little Children 
by Tom Perrotta
Starring Kate Winslet
Jennifer Connelly
Patrick Wilson
Jackie Earle Haley
Noah Emmerich
Gregg Edelman
Phyllis Somerville
Narrated by Will Lyman
Music by Thomas Newman
Cinematography Antonio Calvache
Edited by Leo Trombetta
Production
company
Bona Fide
Standard Film Company
Distributed by New Line Cinema
Release dates
  • October 6, 2006 (2006-10-06)
[1]
Running time
137 minutes[2]
Country United States
Language English
Budget $26,000,000[3]
Box office $14,821,658[4]

Little Children is a 2006 American drama film directed by Todd Field. It is based on the novel of the same name by Tom Perrotta, who along with Field wrote the screenplay. It stars Kate Winslet, Patrick Wilson, Jennifer Connelly, Jackie Earle Haley, Noah Emmerich, Gregg Edelman, Phyllis Somerville and Will Lyman. The original music score is composed by Thomas Newman. The film screened at the 44th New York Film Festival organized by the Film Society of Lincoln Center. It earned 3 nominations at the 79th Academy Awards: Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for Haley, Academy Award for Best Actress for Winslet and Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay for Field and Perrotta.

Plot[edit]

Sarah Pierce (Kate Winslet) is a 30-year-old, stay-at-home mother in a small suburban Boston community. She had been working on a doctorate in English, but set aside her work to marry Richard (Gregg Edelman) and raise their daughter, Lucy (Sadie Goldstein). Her marriage falls apart when she discovers that Richard is addicted to online pornography. She meets Brad Adamson (Patrick Wilson), a law student who brings his son, Aaron (Ty Simpkins), to the park. Brad is growing apart from his wife, Kathy (Jennifer Connelly). When he is supposed to be studying for the bar exam, Brad instead plays on a local football team or sits and watches teenagers skateboard outside his house, fantasizing about being young and carefree again. Brad and Sarah become friendly and, on a dare, kiss in the park, scandalizing the other park parents. They are instantly attracted to each other, but resolve to keep their relationship platonic. One day, however, they give in to temptation and have sex in Sarah's basement while their children sleep upstairs.

Brad's friend Larry (Noah Emmerich) is a former police officer who was forced to retire when he accidentally shot a teenager at a local shopping mall. Now he is estranged from his wife and spends much of his time harassing Ronnie McGorvey (Jackie Earle Haley), a sex offender who moved into the neighborhood after he was released from prison. Ronnie lives with his mother, May (Phyllis Somerville), who believes that meeting the right woman would cure him of his sexual fixation on prepubescent girls. Ronnie knows this is futile, but agrees to go out on a date May has arranged for him with a woman named Sheila (Jane Adams). During dinner, Ronnie tells Sheila about his criminal record; Sheila tells him that she has had a series of nervous breakdowns. They seem to get on well, but the date ends badly when he has her drive by the neighborhood elementary school playground so he can masturbate next to her in the car.

Brad skips taking the bar exam so he and Sarah can have a romantic getaway together. Kathy grows suspicious and tells Brad to invite Sarah, Richard and Lucy over for dinner. The intimacy evident between Brad and Sarah confirms her suspicions, and Kathy arranges for her mother to come for an extended visit so Brad and Sarah can't see one another anymore. When Brad's football team plays its final game, Sarah attends and cheers as Brad scores the winning touchdown. Afterwards, while Larry waits for Brad at a nearby bar to celebrate their victory, Brad and Sarah make out on the field. He admits that this is the happiest moment of his life, and asks Sarah to run away with him. She agrees.

Larry goes to Ronnie's house and wakes the neighborhood up by using a bullhorn to taunt him. May comes out to confront him and has a heart attack. Larry is arrested and May taken to the hospital. While Ronnie sleeps in the waiting room, May dies. Her last act is to write a note to Ronnie: "Please be a good boy." Distraught, Ronnie goes home and destroys much of his mother's collection of Hummel figurines, then takes a butcher knife from the kitchen.

That same night, Sarah and Brad agree to rendezvous in the park where they first met to run away together. Brad tells Aaron he loves him before putting him to bed, writes Kathy a note explaining why he is leaving her, then sneaks out while she and her mother finish the dishes. Before he can get to the park, he is distracted by skateboarding teenagers, who convince him to try a jump himself. Brad does so, but crashes and knocks himself out. When he comes to, he asks the ambulance paramedic to call his wife—Kathy—to meet him at the hospital. It turns out that he never left the note for her and tells one of the skateboarders to dispose of it for him.

Meanwhile, Sarah takes Lucy to the park. She sees Ronnie stagger by, and briefly feels afraid; when she sees him crying about his mother's death, however, she feels sorry for him. When Lucy briefly disappears, Sarah panics and rushes to find her, forgetting about Brad. She then realizes her getaway with Brad is just a fantasy. She takes Lucy home and puts her to bed.

Larry is upset about having indirectly caused May's death. He genuinely wants to apologize to Ronnie and finds him in the park: he has castrated himself and is bleeding to death. Larry races him to the hospital. They arrive at the hospital just as Kathy meets Brad's ambulance at the emergency room doors.

Cast[edit]

Production[edit]

Perrotta and Field working on the script for Little Children

For this film, director Todd Field and novelist Tom Perrotta intended to take the story in a separate and somewhat different direction than the novel. "When Todd and I began collaborating on the script, we were hoping to make something new out of the material, rather than simply reproducing the book onto film," says Perrotta.[5]

Critical reception[edit]

Reviews of the film were generally positive. Based on 157 reviews collected by the film review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, 80% of critics gave Little Children a positive review (125 "Fresh"; 32 "Rotten"), with an average rating of 7.4/10.[6] A. O. Scott of The New York Times wrote: :

"Mr. Field proves to be among the most literary of American filmmakers. In too many recent movies intelligence is woefully undervalued, and it is this quality — even more than its considerable beauty — that distinguishes Little Children from its peers. A movie that is challenging, accessible, and hard to stop thinking about."[7]

Scott later placed Little Children ninth on his list of the top 10 films of 2006.[8] Carina Chocano of The Los Angeles Times also praised the film: :

"Little Children is one of those rare films that transcends its source material. Firmly rooted in the present and in our current frame of mind — a time and frame of mind that few artists have shown interest in really exploring — the movie is one of the few films I can think of that examines the baffling combination of smugness, self-abnegation, ceremonial deference and status anxiety that characterizes middle-class Gen X parenting, and find sheer, white-knuckled terror at its core."[9]

Accolades[edit]

Award Category Recipients and nominees Outcome
Academy Awards Best Actress Kate Winslet Nominated
Best Supporting Actor Jackie Earle Haley Nominated
Best Adapted Screenplay Todd Field & Tom Perrotta Nominated
Alliance of Women Film Journalists Best Drama by or About Women Todd Field Won
Best Actress Kate Winslet Nominated
BAFTA Awards Best Actress Kate Winslet Nominated
Best Screenplay - Adapted Todd Field & Tom Perrotta Nominated
Broadcast Film Critics Association Awards Best Film Albert Berger, Ron Yerxa, Todd Field Nominated
Best Actress Kate Winslet Nominated
Best Writer Todd Field & Tom Perrotta Nominated
Chicago Film Critics Association Awards Best Supporting Actor Jackie Earle Haley Won
Best Actress Kate Winslet Nominated
Best Screenplay Todd Field & Tom Perrotta Nominated
Dallas-Fort Worth Film Critics Association Awards Best Picture Todd Field Nominated
Best Actress Kate Winslet Nominated
Best Supporting Actor Jackie Earle Haley Won
Deauville American Film Festival Grand Special Prize Todd Field Nominated
Dublin Film Critics' Circle Best Actress Kate Winslet Nominated
Empire Awards Best Actress Kate Winslet Nominated
Golden Globe Awards Best Motion Picture - Drama Albert Berger, Ron Yerxa, Todd Field Nominated
Best Actress - Motion Picture, Drama Kate Winslet Nominated
Best Screenplay- Motion Picture Todd Field & Tom Perrotta Nominated
Gotham Awards Best Film Todd Field Nominated
Iowa Film Critics Awards Best Picture Todd Field Won
Best Supporting Actor Jackie Earle Haley Won
London Film Critics' Circle British Actress of the Year Kate Winslet Nominated
Los Angeles Film Critics Association Awards Best Music Thomas Newman Won
National Society of Film Critics Best Supporting Actor Jackie Earle Haley Nominated
New York Film Critics Circle Awards Best Supporting Actor Jackie Earle Haley Won
Best Actress Kate Winslet Nominated
OFTA Best Actress Kate Winslet Nominated
Best Supporting Actor Jackie Earle Haley Won
Best Screenplay - Adapted Todd Field & Tom Perrotta Nominated
Best Casting Belinda Monte & Todd Thaler Nominated
Online Film Critics Society Awards Best Actress Kate Winslet Nominated
Best Supporting Actor Jackie Earle Haley Won
Best Screenplay - Adapted Todd Field & Tom Perrotta Nominated
Palm Springs International Film Festival Desert Palm Achievement Awar Kate Winslet Won
Visionary Award Todd Field Won
San Francisco Film Critics Circle Best Picture Todd Field Won
Best Supporting Actor Jackie Earle Haley Won
Best Screenplay - Adapted Todd Field & Tom Perrotta Won
Satellite Awards Best Film - Drama Albert Berger, Ron Yerxa, Todd Field Nominated
Best Actress - Drama Kate Winslet Nominated
Best Actor - Drama Patrick Wilson Nominated
Best Screenplay - Adapted Todd Field & Tom Perrotta Nominated
Screen Actors Guild Awards Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role Jackie Earle Haley Nominated
Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role Kate Winslet Nominated
Southeastern Film Critics Association Awards Best Picture Todd Field Nominated
Best Supporting Actor Jackie Earle Haley Won
Writers Guild of America Awards Best Adapted Screenplay Todd Field & Tom Perrotta Nominated
Vancouver Film Critics Circle Best Picture Todd Field Nominated
Best Actress Kate Winslet Nominated

Awards and honors[edit]

Film archives[edit]

35mm safety prints are housed in both the UCLA Film & Television Archive[10] and the Museum of Modern Art's permanent film collection.[11]

Differences between the film and the novel[edit]

  • While the film is a drama, the book is satirical in nature and is much more of a black comedy.
  • Brad in the movie was named Todd in the novel.
  • In the novel, Sarah wore a red bikini at the swimming pool area. In the movie, it was a one-piece.
  • The novel does not end with a hospital scene.
  • Near the end novel Richard leaves Sarah for a porn star named "Slutty Kay" who lives in San Diego. He goes to San Diego under the guise of a business trip there. In the film he doesn't leave Sarah and is described as simply being in San Diego on a business trip.
  • At the end of the novel, Ronnie admits to Sarah that he has given in to his compulsions and has murdered a young girl. In the film, there is no such confession and Ronnie only harms himself via castration.

References[edit]

External links[edit]