Friday, February 23, 2007

A Movie About, But Not For, Little Children

Little children, particularly those of a certain age, are not ones to put restraints on their urges. If they want a cookie, they'll eat it. If they're tired of doing THIS or THAT, they'll start crying and usually mommy and dad will be there to take care of the situation. The parent, giving in to the tears or the screams or even the simple unemotional request, will push the swing, switch the TV channel, empty the diaper.

There are plenty of adults who continue to act like children all their lives, always wanting something, unable to control the urges in their life. They may be married, or in a monagomous relationship, but they will cheat on their spouse because they can't resist the urge. They may have extreme credit card debt, but they'll buy that jacket they don't need because they WANT it. DESIRE wins over CONTROL.

A new movie by Todd Field, Little Children, is about adults, adults with obsessions, who for a variety of reasons can't resist the same kind of desires that cause children to steal cookies.

The mental instabilities of the characters in this film all involve obsessions: the ex-cop obsessed with harassing a sex offender; the brainy woman obsessed with the not-so-brainy hunk; the married man obsessed with masturbating on the internet; the sex offender obsessed with his complex desire to expose his genitals ... and masturbate publicly.

Most of the main characters in Little Children give in to their urges, their obsessions.

Other characters live lives of repression. The results are no better.


Little Children is directed by the man who did In The Bedroom, which was my pick as the best movie of 2001, and is still one of my favorite films of the decade.



Phyllis Somerville, who plays the mother of the sex offender in the movie, gives a performance worthy of an Academy Award nomination for best supporting actress. She wasn't nominated, maybe placing sixth on the list since Jennifer Hudson's LEAD role was honored with a SUPPORTING nod for Dreamgirls? What a shame. Her son in the movie, played by Jackie Earle Haley, did receive a nomination, and is so worthy of this honor.


Near the end of the movie, a little girl around 3 years of age gives in to an urge -- the desire to get off her swing, leave a public park at night and stare from the middle of a street at bugs swarming a light pole.

What did she see in that stare? Just bugs swarming around a light?

These weren't moths drawn to a flame. These bugs aren't going to die.

But they're going to keep swarming around that light because they can't help it.

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