Little Children is all about adults actually. Adults that
are leading somewhat privileged lifestyles with cute children
and rich or pretty spouses. Basically they should not be discontented
or feeling vacuous.
feeling vacuous is what they are. Sarah, the jaded feminist
who married a divorcee to escape personal Starbucks hell found
that she is fast becoming a “boring suburban wife”.
In Sarah’s world, children are more like appendages,
something that she shouldn’t really be bothered about.
Richard, the husband, is rich but obsessed with Slutty Kay
and her mail-delivered panties. Todd the “Prom King”
stay-at-home dad spends most of his time with his son Aaron
but still finds Aaron closer to his trophy pretty filmmaker
wife Kathy. Committed to sitting for the bar exam for the
third time, Todd is more interested in watching skateboarders
and playing train wreck with his son.
on a warm balmy afternoon at the playground, Sarah and Todd
exchanged a prank kiss in front of the boring suburban moms
and it escalated into a full-blown affair involving their
children and the town swimming pool. Thrown into the mix are
newly-released child-molester Ronnie and retired hothead cop
Larry, a volatile combination that messes up the placid neighbourhood.
Children is a subtly poignant satire of the modern suburban
family, penned in an understated style by Tom Perrotta, the
author who had previously lanced the rose-tinted bubble of
high school and college lifestyle in Joe College and Election.
The themes of nostalgia for unlivened experiences and longing
for the unattainable were never explicated but driven home
slowly with each course of action chosen by the characters.
Perrotta never overlays his story with beautiful prose, just
like how he refuses to aggrandize or judge any of his characters.
The adult characters behave more like children trying to avoid
responsibility and act on their selfish impulses – behaviour
that is constricted by the social norms of adult life.
greatest empathy was reserved for Todd, the misplaced jock
who attempted to find his personal salvation by re-enacting
his high school lifestyle with midnight football and an admiring
girlfriend. The scenes where Todd looked on enviously while
teenage skateboarders showboat their youthful exuberance were
both tender and forceful.
Children has been adapted into a well-received film starring
Kate Winslet, Patrick “Zidane” Wilson and Jennifer
Connelly with a script written by the author and Todd Fields.
I am looking forward to watching it.
“It was only later, after he was married and the father
of a new-born son, that he began to suspect that there was
something not quite right, something unresolved or defective
at the core of his being. And it must have been something
– this flaw or lack of whatever the hell it was –
that kept his arm glued to the mailbox while he watched the
skateboarders every night, desperately hoping that they’d
notice him for once and say something nice, maybe even invite
him to step out from the shadows and take his rightful place
happen to be a fan of the grand-prose-and-sweeping-storyline
genre, but this low-key concise effort by Tom Perrotta is
a good introspective read.
by Lim Mun Pong