Monday, October 15, 2007

Week 20: Little Children

This was an interesting movie for me to watch because I recently (and unwittingly) read the book on which Little Children was based. I didn’t even put it together that this movie of the same title was based on the Tom Perrotta book until we started watching it.

The movie is a very faithful adaptation of the book, even including a narrator to share the characters’ innermost thoughts, much of which seemed lifted word-for-word from Perrotta’s dialogue (he was a screenwriter on this film, so it’s no surprise). This is one of the cases in which both book and movie are really good and neither in a strikingly better way than the other.

A few subtle changes from the book:
1. They changed the main character Todd to Brad in the movie. Why? I have no idea. Maybe the director went to elementary school with a real jerk named Todd and couldn't get it out of his head. Oh wait, according to IMDB, the director’s name is Todd so maybe that’s why he changed it. False alarm.

2. The character of the child molester, Ronnie McGorvey, is portrayed as a mean-spirited, foul-tempered glutton in the book. In the movie, his portrayal by Jackie Earle Haley, is much more subtle, refined and dimensional. Haley (who was Oscar-nominated for this performance) is so tortuously thin that you can read every measure of internal strife and emotion across the strained sinews of his face. He is completely believable and even sympathetic as a child predator.

Tom Perrotta, who also wrote Election, seems to have a knack for showing us detritus of suburban lives, with a special penchant for exposing our base desires for sexual misconduct. Remember the teachers lusting for their students in Election? In Little Children, all the characters are lusting for what they don’t have, most comically in the character Richard’s lust for his online paramour, Slutty Kay. I’ll let you watch what happens when he gets a present in the mail from Slutty Kay, and trust me; it’s worth renting for that humiliating scene alone.

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