This forgotten classic from Todd Field is now incredibly forward-looking.
I read Tom Perrotta’s book for the first time Small children, when I was in graduate school at Boston University. Maybe it was partly because I had read the book the story took place in, but I fell in love with all of the characters, the somewhat disturbing world, and the incredible win.
We all agree that if you love a book, it’s usually a long way to go into making a movie to impress us. But somehow Todd Field’s vision lives up to the hype. The film takes the best elements of the book and finds a way to bring them to the screen. It uses a speaker for the Voice of God to keep the book’s perspective as well, and constantly prompts us to judge the characters at the center of the film as we do in the novel.
This judgment also allows us to see the consequences of what we have feared and feared for throughout history.
Tom Perrotta wrote the script with Field and their collaboration brought something special to the screen.
The movie stars are Kate Winslet, Patrick Wilson, Jennifer Connelly, Jackie Earle Haley, Noah Emmerich, Gregg Edelman, Phyllis Somerville and Will Lyman. The original score was composed by Thomas Newman. It was nominated for three things at the 79th Academy Awards: Best Actress for Winslet, Best Supporting Actor for Haley, and Best Adapted Screenplay for Field and Perrotta.
Although it didn’t win anything, it’s a movie I keep coming back to. And I’m surprised I don’t hear what people are talking about anymore.
Small children is the best movie of the early 2000s, and its message is pervasive today. It takes love, white suburban fear, dangerous cops, toxic masculinity, adultery, sexual deviation, and pornography addiction with great serenity. It’s a film about what makes us human – our mistakes.
Carina Chocano from The Los Angeles Times praised the movie and said:
“Small children is one of those rare films that surpasses its source material. Firmly rooted in the present and our present mindset – a time and mindset that few artists have really explored – the film is one of the few films I can think of that examines the startling combination of complacency and self-esteem examine-denial, ceremonial Reverence and fear of status that characterize the parenting of the middle class of Generation X and find at their core pure, horrific terror. ”
Before the film hit theaters, they released one of the best trailers of all time. It was lush, filled with the kind of tone editing and cuts that would intrigue anyone.
But the film tanked at the box office, making less than $ 15 million worldwide on a budget of around $ 26 million.
It’s hard to imagine why the movie didn’t break out. Maybe it was the darker topic, but the marketing materials for this project have been impeccable, from this incredible trailer to one of the sexiest movie posters ever.
Maybe it was the title referring to a line from the book.
“After all, what was adult life but a moment of weakness on top of the other? Most people just lined up like obedient little children and did exactly what society asked them to do at one point in time, all the while pretending that they had actually made a choice. “
If you look back on film today, it’s hard to imagine any other American film that shows these kinds of weaknesses and characters. With so many mature dramas making their way onto television, this seems like the last bastion of storytelling and intricate characters.
Everything in the film serves the story, from the score to the cinematography of Antonio Calvache, which shows the “grass is always greener” aspect of suburban life with peppy establishing shots, while life is juxtaposed and gossip develops.
The main point I want to make is that this film came out in 2006 and the world seems to have finally caught up with the themes of this story. We see police officers being held responsible for their actions more often. Social media has made envy of neighbors and gossip about friends all the more accessible. While bullying has been a hot topic for a while, we have found many legitimate victims whom we can hate more than we ourselves.
Small children deserves to be in the pantheon of films we talk about. We should have it in the best films of all time and certainly at the top of the list of films we’ve seen this century. Yet people forget that it exists. But if that’s what you’re looking for, it’s there. In the playground on the corner. Wait to run away with you, wait for the better life you can offer him.
The one it thinks deserves. Outside the suburban landscape, somewhere far away from here.
All you have to do is remember it.