I TiVoed Little Children, starring Kate Winslet, Patrick Wilson, and Jennifer Connelly a long time ago, and I finally got around to watching it this weekend. Yikes. Though well-done, this is a very difficult movie to watch.
Sarah (Winslet) is a stay-at-home mom in a small, suburban community. Her only child, daughter Lucy, is three, and Sarah apparently has no plans to return to the work force. Though her family could well afford it, Sarah does not put Lucy in any part-time childcare, and she shuns opportunities to spend time with other SAHMs. (I can only guess that she feels "above" them?) However, she seems to resent her duties as a full-time mom. In fact, it doesn't appear that she enjoys spending time with her daughter at all, even though that's primarily what she does. As a result, Sarah feels unfulfilled.
Brad (Wilson) is a stay-at-home dad with a young son and a knockout wife (Connelly) who works in the documentary film industry. He's graduated from law school but, thus far, has failed to pass the bar exam. Money is tight at Brad's household, and his wife routinely questions his expenditures - magazine subscriptions, his desire for a cell phone, etc. Because his wife allows his son to sleep in their bed, sex is at an all-time low for Brad. As a result of all the above, Brad feels unfulfilled.
When Sarah and Brad meet at the park one day, an unexplainable kiss sets them on track to potentially life-altering events. In addition, tightly-wound subplots - a sex offender moving into the neighborhood, a local cop who's now "retired" due to his use of deadly force on the job, etc. - add to the ominous feeling that everything could very well fall apart by the end of the film.
Performances were very strong throughout. There was not a character in this film that I did not believe. Everyone turned in A work here; cannot write enough good things about that. In my opinion, the performances are what make this film so compelling.
However, I had difficulty watching Little Children, which I suppose was partly the point. First of all, I didn't understand WHY the characters made some of the choices they did. Sarah and Brad's first encounter was completely baffling to me. They hardly know one another, and they kiss. Wha . . . ? And since this is the initial event that sets all of the others in motion, I kinda wanted more motivation for the characters here.
Other "whys" - why doesn't Sarah talk with her own husband regarding the distance they are experiencing and her need for fulfillment; why doesn't Brad assert himself more in his own marriage, rather than surrendering his whole self to being a SAHD? They are both kind-of weak personalities.
The subplots were not easy, either. The sex offender is being harassed by the "retired" cop. The offender's mother (who he's moved back in with) is trying her best to protect her son and help him reform. The "retired" cop is struggling with his own guilt at using force on the job (which resulted in the death of an innocent 13-year-old) and pacifying his inner demons by persectuing the sex offender. Aaargh. There's nothing simple about this film. Everything is so . . . twisted up.
Anyway, this movie is based on a book by Tom Perrotta, and lord, my mom's book club would probably have a field day with it. This movie is worth watching, but not for the faint of heart. All kinds of fit hits the shan before it's over.