LITTLE CHILDREN

As a lead-up to the it-will-totally-be-worth-it ranking (with comments on each) of every movie worth and not worth seeing in 2006, here are a few random thoughts on a flick I saw a couple months ago. Guess what position it will be ranked at?

The trailer (one of the best of the year) makes it look like Little Children is a quite serious tragedy but I found it quite humorous and entertaining thanks to a disembodied omniscient narrator, whose baritone descriptions of the characters makes their lives seem all the more frivolous. The idea of having a voice-over by someone who is never shown in the movie itself, even as an author or something, is such a filmmaking no-no that it made me love the movie.

During our criticism summit this Christmas, Nate Bell said “never has a movie felt so directed” and I take his point, but I liked its colorfulness and the very surreal tone of many scenes, especially one at the pool, and there is a football scene that suddenly takes on the style of a sports movie. It could be called over the top at times but I think its style allowed me to simultaneously sympathize with and pity every character. And as affair-movies go it had a daring ending that pleasantly surprised me.

The first scene made me think it was going to be very polemical and mean-spirited but it turned out to be fairly compassionate in its satire. By confining itself to a single neighborhood, it also acheived the currently popular formula of “interconnected storylines” (Magnolia, Crash, Babel, any others?) remarkably without straining credulity.

It doesn’t contain profound revelations about the human condition, but I think it is a much better movie than American Beauty which was just a little too snotty.

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