DVD Review: Little Children

New Line
Movie •••½ Picture •••• Sound ••• Extras None
This unique film from writer/director Todd Field (In the Bedroom) interweaves two stories to deeply unsettling effect. One involves two unhappy suburbanites as they inch toward an affair; the other focuses on the unwelcome arrival of a pedophile in their idyllic community. What begins as a scathing indictment of empty suburban life, à la American Beauty, gets more complicated in its moral stance as it inches forward.

Little Children is finely crafted, and the stars turn in remarkable performances - especially Kate Winslet, who was nominated for an Oscar. But odd touches, such as overblown narration straight out of a 1950s Hollywood melodrama, may leave casual viewers puzzled. Although Field deserves credit for originality, in the end it all feels a little less satisfying than it should.

Not so the transfer, which is as clean and lustrous as the film's sun-drenched setting. The manicured lawns and spotless streets provide counterpoint to the inner turmoil of almost all of the film's characters - and to the tragedy that seems to lurk unseen around every corner. The sound mix is predictably subdued, with only the occasional flourish from Thomas Newman's lovely score. One drawback: No extras of any kind are included - not even a trailer. [R] English, Dolby Digital 5.1 and Dolby Surround; letterboxed (2.35:1) and anamorphic widescreen; dual layer.

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