Little Children (15) <!-- none onestar twostar threestar fourstar fivestar -->

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The Independent Culture

Todd Field's second feature is a grievous disappointment after the impact of his first, In The Bedroom. Set once again amid the suffocating comforts of suburbia, it concerns a handful of characters each speeding towards a crisis. At its centre is Sarah (Kate Winslet), a young mother who's turned away from her porn-addict husband and fallen into the arms of Brad (Patrick Wilson), a one-time sports hero and cynosure of the desperate housewives who gather at the local playground.

Their neighbourhood is in uproar at the return of a convicted paedophile (Jackie Earle Haley). The vulnerability of children - and adults - is its theme, but Field and his co-writer Tom Perrotta work it out with little wit and much pomposity, their obvious mistake being to include a voiceover. There's one interestingly odd scene, when the paedophile is spotted at the children's swimming pool and everyone exits the water faster than they did in Jaws, but the rest of it feels rigged.