catapult magazine

catapult magazine

Vol 6, Num 7 :: 2007.04.06 — 2007.04.20


Monolithic Secrets

The Untold Stories Lying Around the Home

Todd Field (In the Bedroom) supplies an eerie exploration of suburbia and family in his new film Little Children. Tom Perrotta, author of the novel Little Children, who also penned the highly acclaimed satirical novel Election, unites with Field for a poignantly powerful tale of infidelity, pedophilia, murder, and beyond.

In a world of playgrounds and swimming pools, Little Children considers the implausible absurdities of our illusionary fantasies. The reality we live amidst, the one time fantasy of our wonder is now our disdain, the tautological cycle of unhappiness and ironic solitude, surrounded by many yet alone, a mirror of sorts into the cold image of the American suburban psyche. In the eerie rustle of the trees tossed by the wind, similar to most any neighborhood you might drive through, are homes filled with secrets, lives filled with duplicity, minds entrapped in the mundane reality of mediocrity and unhappiness, the kind they never imagined they’d willingly consume.

Sarah (Kate Winslet) is sobering to the reality of her humdrum role of mother trapped in a marriage to a two-bit jerk off (Gregg Edelman), literally at times. Brad (Patrick Wilson), the local “Prom King” turned Mr. Mom, becomes the object of Sarah’s budding affection. Brad is a not-so-successful lawyer strung out on dilapidating former glory of his better years. Brad’s wife Kathy (Jennifer Connelly) is a beautiful filmmaker with a twisted sense of priority. As Sarah turns a frisky eye to Brad, the humid must of lust overwhelms, rivaling the heat of summer, as they retreat to a remote corner of the home, away from the children, to quench their pulses. As we spiral down, the community arouses endearing suspicion when Ronnie (Jackie Earle Haley), a recently released sex-offender moves into the neighborhood to live with his mother May (Phyllis Somerville). Cue Larry (Noah Emmerich), an ex-cop who rises to the occasion with raging harassment in an unswerving attempt to expose Ronnie beyond the extent of his own. As our narrative plot thickens and darkens, like an afternoon thunderstorm rolling over a city, we prepare with anticipation as our narrator sinisterly yet wittily guides us into the storm.

As David Denby aptly notes, Children offers us a “charged suggestion that outright perversion and ordinary unhappiness belong on the same spectrum of recognizable behavior. Almost everyone in town has a secret, or at least an itch.” Or as Peter Travers notes, Children is “more than a moral fable about the traps we set for ourselves by not growing up” it’s a “high-wire act that balances hard truth and hard-won tenderness.”

Fittingly making its mark alongside the suburban genre gems of American Beauty and Happiness, Little Children is a delightfully wicked treat for soul and mind. It hits home in a bitingly literal way as so many of us also are longing for the passing wind of youth and the inextricable excitement of confidence and self-discovery renewed. As Sarah notes so clearly and vividly, “It’s the hunger, the hunger for an alternative and the refusal to accept a life of unhappiness.” As this train rolls through our minds, horn whistle blowing, you can hear the steel rail thump rhythmically across the cross-ties, passing us yet remaining with us. 

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