Monday, November 13, 2006

Little Children, Again

Yesterday I finally went to see "Little Children." I had to leave the comfort zone of my local theater for Manhattan, but stayed close to home by hitting the Angelika Film Center, just a few subway stops in. [I just tried to add a link to their website, but seems the site is down. Hmph.]

I definitely prefer the movie to the book, which isn't saying too much, but I really did like the movie. Some of the issues I had with the book are still there - great gaps in character development for example - but they don't overwhelm as much on the screen as on the page. The film does a great job of creating the right mood and tension, both of which I missed while reading. And Kate Winslett is good, even though I'm apt to say that about any actress who voluntarily gives up mascara to look frumpy for a role. (One of my biggest compliments to the film is that they didn't suddenly put her in makeup and hair products when her character was suddenly "happy" and in love.) The other actors are good, too, although I'm sad to admit I didn't recognize Patrick Wilson from "Hard Candy" until I just looked him up right now. That might have been interesting to think about watching him on the screen, as in "Hard Candy" he played a pedophile, and in this film, well, someone else is.

I think I liked him better in that role, though. Here he is the same incomprehensible character he was in the book. Maybe my inability to understand him is my own issue, but I don't really know what his problem is. I'll try my best not to give it all away here, but stop if you don't want to be spoiled. He has a gorgeous and successful wife, a beautiful son he clearly enjoys being with, a nice house, and some career issues. Okay, fine. But nothing is stopping him from making alternative career choices - looking for something he enjoys doing (clearly not what he's been educated for, and continually fails at) and making a career of that. Problem is, he doesn't seem to enjoy anything. So maybe that's the crux of the character - a guy who has no clue what he wants in life, knows he should be happy with what he has, but still is unsatisfied. I could buy that, but his actions don't play out along those lines. Maybe because he never finds anything to make him anything but what he already is. He tries something, a major life change, but winds up not following through with it, and goes back to his same life. What has he learned? Has he grown? Yeah, not every character needs to make a miraculous 180 degree turn, but a protagonist with no growth isn't very satisfying to spend time with. In the book, he is the main voice, although in the movie he (wisely) takes a backseat to Kate Winslet's character. That is why I think the movie succeeds - it's much clearer what she is looking for: her marriage is floundering, she's put aside a career that she enjoyed to raise a child she doesn't.

Enough of my rattling. I'm at work, I should pretend to be productive.

[I have watched enough episodes of "Weeds" on Showtime on Demand to have the theme song "Little Boxes" stuck in my head, and now I'm singing "Little Children" to that tune... sigh.]


Blogger Pynchon said...

Never read the book, but I think that "Little Children" is a great film.

7:11 PM  

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