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Winslet wins them over!

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‘Little Children’ focuses on the ramifications of Sarah’s affair with Brad. His life is no bed of roses. He is struggling to pass the bar exam and is in an unhappy marriage with a successful documentary filmmaker.

The film is a portrait of immature mothers and fathers who seem unable to take care of themselves let along their children! They follow their whim and almost end up in hot water. The need to confront and come to terms with one’s own problems, accepting responsibilities, the virtue of remaining nonjudgmental and how innocent children suffer due to the decisions taken by grown are ups are some of the themes which are a part of ‘Little Children’. In other words, it is Sarah, Brad and the rest of the grown people who are the titular children. That is why they use Ronnie, a new arrival at town, as a scapegoat to unleash their personal pressures because he has previously been a sex offender.

A good point to note down here is that director Todd Field has not been naïve enough to portray Ronnie as a simple victim. Larry who heads Ronnie’s witch hunt actually ends up masturbating in a car and ends up threatening a woman with violence if she dares mention it. The underlying message here seems to be that you can engage in sex related acts in private but not expose in public.

But ‘Little Children’ isn’t just another tearful look at the destructive effects of lust. The question of sexual morality is blurred and twisted out of recognition by Ronnie’s plight.

Parent-offspring dramatics are explored in the movie. The suburban society in the movie has been highly caricatured. You get instances like young mothers drooling over a hot looking young father and a man lusting over a prostitute he had located via the internet instead of spending more time with his attractive wife. Likewise a young mother lets her profession dominate her marriage thereby leaving room for her husband to engage in adultery.

Though the film is titled ‘Little Children’, it is more suitable for adults. There are quite a number of nude scenes in the film and a few characters even use foul language.

Kate Winslet heads the cast as Sarah. The talented actress puts her skills to good use in putting her talents to good use by portraying Sarah as a woman with a misplaced heart rather a slut or desperate psychopath. Patrick Wilson makes a fitting Brad. Jennifer Connelly is tolerable as Brad’s wife, Kathy. Jackie Earle Haley, Noah Emmerich, Gregg Edelman, Phyllis Somerville, Raymond J. Barry, Jane Adams, Ty Simpkins and Sadie Goldstein make up the rest of the cast.

Betrayal, fear, anger and guilt are not buried far within ‘Little Children’. Itis unsettling stuff, shifting from black comedy to bleak drama and back, even punctuated by the odd moment of slapstick and all overseen by a knowing, slightly arch narrator. However such apparently inconsistent touches add to a sense of realism. These characters may be prettier than your average, but they live in a recognisable, topsy-turvy world, riddled with fear of the unknown and an even bigger fear of failing to explore it.

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