David Poland, who saw Todd Field‘s Little Children a week and a half or two weeks ago along with a handful of other critics, is calling it the “best American film” and “first American masterpiece” of 2006, as well as on Fields’ part “one of the great sophomore efforts of all time.”
Another guy who’s seen this New Line release admires it but feels it may be a little too cool and detached to rank as a big-time Oscar contender…we’ll see.
Poland says Children “is the film that Ang Lee and Alan Ball and Robert Redford and Paul Thomas Anderson and even Woody Allen have been trying to make for a long time. New Line’s terrific, but narrow, trailer for the movie, understandably, focuses on ‘the affair’ in the film. But man, I am here to tell you — it’s just the appetizer.
“The film is very, very funny, but audiences are afraid to laugh at a lot of the humor.” (How does Poland know that? Is he quoting data from test screening reactions? If so, who’s feeding him tthis?) “After all, how funny are cheating and perversion and mean-spiritedness and outright stupidity? Very funny. But it’s a Kubrickian humor…tough and more than a little shocking. There isn’t a shot in the movie that feels wrong. Whether it’s a table scene with four characters who are each in a completely different place emotionally or a scene underwater meant to force/allow us to see through the eyes of a sex offender or a satirical take on football,
“Field uses the whole toolbox with assurance and detail. And any time you get the feeling that maybe he got the wrong performance out of someone, the reason why it is perfection is right around the corner.”
Here’s another slightly-less-admiring review by Emanuel Levy.