Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Little Children Movie Review Essay

â€Å"You couldn’t change the past. But the future could be a different story. And it had to start somewhere. † This final statement sums up the message of the Little Children, a film opus of Todd Fiend, that talks not merely about a love affair of two married persons, but the story of struggle and redemption of common folk living in an upper-middle class suburban Boston. This notwithstanding, the film also shows a stereotypical, albeit real depiction of the contradictions in such a neighborhood – the soccer moms, the disempowered husbands, better called ‘house-bands’, and the bored housewives in terrible need of an ego boost. The film review shall mainly quote dialogue from the film, in order to showcase fully the power of this story about suburban Northeastern America. Sarah Pierce is a successful academic and campus figure, but has since lost all glory upon her marriage to Richard, and subsequent birth to Lucy, a self-assured little girl who refuses to do everything Sarah requests. She currently suffers from an absolute absence of love in her relationship with Brad, shattered further with her catching Richard in a fit of masturbation, while wearing her panties around his head. Moreover, she eternally despises the pretentious moms she sees in Lucy’s playground all the time. The lines with sarcasm are clearly suggestive of her clear disdain for the mothers, to wit – Mary Ann: He should just be castrated. Just snip, quick and easy. Sarah Pierce: [sarcastically] You know what else you should do? Nail his penis above the entrance to the elementary school. That’d really teach him a lesson. This initial situation of Sarah inextricably creates the objective conditions for the future love affair with Brad, because one cannot reasonably expect, despite promises made at the consummation of marriage that she can eternally be faithful in the wake of the loveless situation that she is in. Her disempowerment as an intellectual by becoming a fulltime housewife living in a sea of pretentious women around her also gives further ammunition, albeit personal isolation from her community-at-large, for the blossoming of a new yet forbidden relationship with Brad. The other player in this love affair is Brad Adamson, a ‘house-band’ whose career is at a standstill – he failed the bar exams twice, and his wife is a successful documentary filmmaker, named Kathy. In such as situation, he feels absolutely helpless, in view of the fact that it is his wife that serves as the breadwinner of the family, and his main task for every given day would be to accompany their child Aaron during his playtime. Without an actual career to speak of, and a similarly successful past as Sarah, it is without a doubt a situation which would create the necessary conditions for his decision to enter into an affair with Sarah – them hopeless beings supposedly full of potential, now finally united. The proverbial meet-cute of film may be the scandalous yet affirming prank they pulled against the pretentious mothers in the playground, when Sarah and Brad hugged each other, to the absolute disdain of the mothers. The prank unleashed their long-kept longings of spontaneity and passion, long gone in the running of their marriages and only to be found again in each other’s embrace. Sarah, as the formerly empowered intellectual, possesses almost the same ridicule at Richard as what she has against the pretentious mothers, to wit – Brad Adamson: You have a nice place here. Sarah Pierce: You think? Yeah, Richard does pretty well for himself. Brad Adamson: Oh, yeah? What’s he do? Sarah Pierce: He lies. They shall soon engage in passionate love-making during a fierce rainstorm, but only after Brad realizes that their feelings for each other are mutual, as shown by a picture kept by Sarah in her study. Nonetheless, the couple in the affair approach their forbidden relationship, with great fervor, but a bit unsure, with even a tinge of guilt and remorse, particularly on the part of Brad, to wit – Brad Adamson: Do you feel bad about this? Sarah Pierce: No, I don’t. Brad Adamson: I do. I feel really bad. The other characters in the movie are as interesting as the two main love-struck protagonists. Ronnie McGorvey is an indecent exposure offender, having served prison time and has since moved back into the neighborhood with his mother. Ronnie seems to have been unreformed in his perverted ways, when he masturbates yet again during a date set by his mother, ruining the date, and destroying all hopes of him ever finding love. His return, nonetheless, is met with great protest by Larry, Brad’s teammate in touch football, and a disgraced police officer. His protests turn violent at times, not content with the mere handing out of flyers and posters about Ronnie, but also vandalizing his house, and almost assaulting Ronnie and his mother. Their seemingly grown-men, good vs. evil conflict reaches a terrible turn when a drunken Larry goes to Ronnie’s house with a megaphone, waking the entire neighborhood and shaming fully Ronnie and his mother. As his mother tries to stop Larry from further his drunken actions, he pushes her to the ground, triggering a heart attack which would soon take her life. Nonetheless, before entering death’s door, she writes a note to Ronnie with a chest-pounding plea – â€Å"Please be good boy. † This triggers Ronnie to go on a fit of rage for losing his mother, ending in castrating himself, in pursuit of his mother’s request at death. Larry would soon realize how grave his mistake was and looks for Ronnie, and bring him to the hospital for medical attention. The stories of Ronnie and Larry ironically show the awkward sense of justice and reason disgraced persons in the community pursue to redeem themselves to their loved ones and to the community. Ronnie, in the most dramatic expression of remorse and love to his dead mother, has cut of his testicles – the physical object of his sexual perversion, in order to unrealistically undo the hurt feelings of his mother created by his former acts. But despite the spectacle of it all, the drama attended by it, there is no point in doing such. The mother is dead, and the date has been left crying. On the other hand, Larry, the disgraced police officer, puts the law into his own hands by maligning Ronnie’s person and by engaging into overt acts of harassment and violence in pursuit of this. The objective is clear, that despite his failure as an officer of the law, he himself continues to be an upright man, rejecting sexual depredation and moral turpitude in the person of Ronnie. He does his brand of redemption to a serious fault, notwithstanding through aimless grandstanding, by lumping together Ronnie’s person to that of his mother, by vandalizing her property and pushing her to the ground in pursuit of his shame campaign. By doing such, he fails in the end, because the object of vigilante-ism is not the person whose life was lost, but some innocent person whose continued life could have influenced Ronnie towards full redemption from his sins, without need of castration, nor the spectacle of it. Meanwhile, the affair between Brad and Sarah becomes all the more serious, to the point that Kathy herself now witnesses the truth of the affair through the tacit sexual tensions between the two during a dinner. They have even agreed to run away together, as when two young star-crossed lovers would leave their unyielding parents in pursuit of their hasty, yet seemingly ‘true’ love. In pursuit of this, Sarah even declares the situation to Mary Ann, to wit – Mary Ann: Oh that’s nice. So now cheating on your husband makes you a feminist? Sarah Pierce: No, no, no. It’s not the cheating. It’s the hunger – the hunger for an alternative and the refusal to accept a life of unhappiness. The two were prepared to leave their loveless homes, their young children and their real spouses to perfect the ‘love’ long lost, and which now they have found through one another. This feeling of seemingly ‘great love’ is expected, but appears clearly as one that is fleeting, one that is artificial, one that was created by the sordid personal experiences of their lives, where the affair’s function was a mere outlet of a love that is merely not sought, but never absent, in their own homes. Such is how their love is that in the film’s climax, at the supposed point of no return by meeting on the night they agreed upon to run away for love, the family and the past they have left pull them back, not through force, but by circumstances that put everything back into its proper perspective. Sarah’s Lucy gets lost, and a panicked mother searches for her relentlessly in the playground where she left her, only to soon find her along under a street light. It is on this moment, that the bubble of ‘love’ in the affair is completely pierced, that the idea of the absence of love is merely in her mind, nothing more, and Lucy is the personification of that love, that has never been absent, but as stated above, a love merely unsought. Brad himself experiences a similar piercing of the ‘love bubble’, in the exact moment towards their scheduled departure for love. Brad, the confident but now disempowered lawyer-to-be, has failed to leave his goodbye letter to Kathy when he met a serious accident while trying some skateboard tricks. No clue has been given as to why he failed to leave the note to Kathy, but what can be surmised is that he probably felt the same as Sarah had, the inability, at the final instance, to create the actual physical wedge between his past and his supposed future with Sarah. This unstated inability to leave is further buttressed by Kathy’s rush to the hospital to meet Brad at the emergency room doors, showing that despite acting as the breadwinner of the family, she is not without love for her husband, and that, as in Sarah’s case, Brad’s idea of a loveless home is again, a love merely unsought, waning and almost at the point of death, yes, but present with the ability to be roused to life again. In all these, the film shows who the real Little Children are in this story of suburban America – it is the adults who allow their feelings to get in the way of principled contemplation of relationships and love.

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