Little Children

I watched Little Children on DVD the day before yesterday. The movie is very 'conceptual' but in a way that works. It’s also very funny. The movie is presented like a brilliant study. Of what. Mmm... I am more of a sort of archaeologist than a reductionist Translator... so I don’t know. Here are some gems to keep from the words spoken, and descriptions of a few really effective shots.

By the way, very effective use has been made of the sound of a train in a suburban neighborhood. Where I spent all my childhood, there were tracks at a far distance, and a train would pass, often in the evening, and I heard that sound, and the train could not be seen. Eerie sound, sooo familiar to me. Associated with the suburbs.

Excerpt no 1. For the past few days, Sarah had been unable to concentrate on anything but the “prom king” and the curious thing that had happened between them on the playground. [Sarah had asked a caregiver dad to hug her, and then kiss her, in front of the other mothers, in order to impress them, or rather... freak them out. That dad had been their fantasy for a while, a reason to put on make-up to go the playground with the kids.] She did not feel shame nor guilt [she never will, even though she is married, whereas he WILL, when having sex with her later on that summer...], only a sense of profound disorientation as if she had been kidnapped by aliens then released unharmed a few hours later.

Well, well, well. Ain’t it always like that for us women, when we share a special kiss. A simple kiss, and all of a sudden Life and everything in it is transformed. We are estranged. We cannot even walk the same way, let alone breathe the same way... and everything that had meaning before becomes like a 2-dimensional projection, playing for others, not for us.

Excerpt no 2. It didn’t seem to matter that Sarah wasn’t his type [we are in the head of the “prom king” now], wasn’t even that pretty - at least not compared to Kathy [his wife], who had long legs and lustrous hair, and perfect breasts. [Nice shots here of the wife, as if in a shampoo commercial, etc.] Sarah was short and boyish, and had eyebrows that were thicker than Brad thought necessary. But even so, she’d walked into his arms that day, as if she was fulfilling a secret wish he had not remembered making.

Yeaaah, well, no matter how you shoot Kate Winslet, she’s neither small, nor boyish, and she will always be gorgeous. Isn’t it always like that in movies ? The girl meant to look plain is always so pretty. Whereas the guy meant to look plain, often looks... plain. Unintentionally funny, that part of the movie. Here, Brad is comparing his future mistress to his wife. He’s using standards, and for him the ultimate standard is his wife. He derives pleasure and comfort from the fact that Sarah is not-SO-beautiful. Less than perfect. In a league other. And _she_ kissed him. _She_ hugged him. He did not. (Actually, she indirectly asked him to kiss her, and, then, _he_ kissed her... but she was the one in control of the situation). All that feels good to him. Sarah is approachable, Sarah is sweet, Sarah will _understand_ him so much more than his picture-perfect wife.

Excerpt no 3. [SARAH to A WOMAN WHO THINKS THAT MADAME BOVARY IS... A SLUT] I think I understand your feelings about this book. I used to have some problems with it myself. When I read it in grad school, Madame Bovary just seemed like a fool. She marries the wrong man, makes one foolish mistake after another. But when I read it this time, I just fell in love in love with her. She’s trapped. She has a choice. She can either accept a life of misery, or she can struggle against it. And she chooses to struggle. [WOMAN] Some struggle! Hop into bed with every guy who says hello. [SARAH] Well, she fails in the end, but there’s something beautiful and even heroic in her rebellion. My professors would kill me for even thinking this, but in her own strange way, Emma Bovary is a feminist. [WOMAN] Oh, that’s nice. So now cheating on your husband makes you a feminist. [SARAH] 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.

They kept the part in bold for the trailer. I can relate to these words.

Excerpt no 4. [SARAH to BRAD (her lover), while they are having sex.] Is she pretty? [BRAD] Who? [SARAH] Your wife. [BRAD] Do we really need to talk about this now? [SARAH, insisting, after some cut in time, they are still having sex...] It’s a simple question. [BRAD, impatient] She's pretty, ok? Do we have to talk about this now? [SARAH, after the sex] How pretty is she? [BRAD, after some hesitation] A knockout... Beauty’s overrated, Sarah. [NARRATOR] Brad had meant this to be comforting. But at 3:00 in the morning, it had precisely the opposite effect [on Sarah]. He had a beautiful wife, a “knockout”, and she was sleeping beside him right now. Only someone who took his own beauty for granted would have been able to say something so stupid and with a straight face.

Some man told me recently, some extremely good-looking young guy, that he made a point of never lying to a woman about how she looked. He would phrase it so it would be nothing but the truth. He could desire a woman who was not beautiful, so he would not tell her you’re beautiful, he would tell her I desire you. I think he was lying actually. Because he did compliment some... aspects of me, and I think he used all this no-lie bullshit to make me believe in his lies. How sweet of him really LOL... But I think indeed that a woman needs to be told that she’s beautiful, and not because she will believe it. She just needs to hear it. Actually, it’s quite simple : she needs to hear it because it will make her become more beautiful, quite literally. The more she hears it by Tha Man That Counts, the more she will become. If he looks like he means it. And a woman knows that : that desire and words like these will transform her. There you go.

Shot no 1. Ronnie, the pedophile, is masturbating in the car next to his date, who, without noticing what he’s doing, has started to talk about her last breakup, about how her last boyfriend walked out on her in a restaurant, leaving her with the check. And never called her back. Then she turns toward Ronnie and notices that he’s masturbating. You get a very effective shot of Ronnie here : because perspective is stretched Ronnie looks like a little kid sitting on the passenger seat next to this woman. He’s not threatening, nor does he looks like some dirty man (he is in his fifties), he looks out of control and touching and like a little boy. He has totally lost control.

Excerpt no 5.

[MAY, Ronnie’s mother, reading the newspaper.] There are four whole columns of lonely women here, and only a handful of men. The odds are on our side. Why wouldn’t one of these women want to meet a nice person like you?

[RONNIE, grumpily] I am not a nice person.

[MAY] You did a bad thing. But that doesn’t mean you’re a bad person.

[RONNIE] I have a psychosexual disorder.

[MAY] You’re better now. They wouldn’t have let you out if you weren’t.

[RONNIE] They let me out because they had to.

[MAY] Well, maybe if you found a girlfriend closer to your own age you wouldn’t have the bad urges so often.

[RONNIE, just as drily] I don’t want a girlfriend my own age, Mommy. I wish I did.

[MAY] What are you going to do when I’m gone? Who’s going to take care of you?

[RONNIE] What’s the matter, Mommy ? [Ronnie is no longer grumpy, he’s scared...He kneels in front of May.] Are you sick or something?

[MAY] I am an old woman, I'm not gonna live forever. Who’s gonna cook for you?
Who’s going to wash the dishes?

[RONNIE] I can wash the dishes.

[MAY] You’ve never washed a dish in your whole life.

[RONNIE] I could do it if I had to. I am not a retard.

[MAY] NO, YOU’RE NOT! You’re a miracle, Ronnie! We’re all miracles. You know why? Because as humans, everyday we go about our business, and all that time... we know, we all know, that the things we love, the people we love... at any time, it can all be taken away... We live knowing that, and we keep going anyway. Animals don’t do that.

I will finish this later... the most interesting part of the movie BY FAR is the one that involves Ronnie. The love story is sort of boring.

[On second thought, this takes too much time.]

Last edited by Caroline Schnapp about 12 years ago.



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Great! Thanks for your documents, its been very helpful. Thanks again for sharing your information.

Great! Thanks for your

Great! Thanks for your documents, its been very helpful. Thanks again for sharing your information.