Writer/director Todd Field followed up In The Bedroom with an equally dark but just as compelling drama, featuring Kate Winslet as Massachusetts mother Sarah who embarks on clandestine afternoon meetings with Brad (Patrick Wilson). Their initially chaste meetings, while their children play at a local park, gives way to a torrid romance, despite their family ties, and engenders a secret that affects the way they see the community around them. That disaffection becomes important as Brad’s friend Larry is suspicious of local outcast Ronnie (Jackie Earle Haley), who lives with his mother and has a complex set of mental health issues relation to women and young girls in particular. How the community treat Ronnie becomes mixed up with Sarah and Brad’s covert affair, and final few scenes of Little Children are intense and powerful as deception leads to consequences. Little Children is melodramatic at times, but the 134 minute length is justified by the eloquent way that Field draws out the mores of the suburban community, and engenders sympathy for Sarah and Brad and their fight against the common denominator of loveless marriages. A woman’s picture in the old style, Little Children is an accomplished adult drama.
Set in Belfast, Maine, Todd Field’s accomplished thriller is a careful study of New England couple Matt (Tom Wilkerson) and Ruth (Sissy Spacek), whose only son Frank is ill-advisedly seeing older woman Natalie (Marisa Tomei). Her ex-husband Richard (William Mapother), whose family own a local canning factory, is disturbed by the relationship, and an act of violence changes the course of the family’s history. The definition of a sleeper hit, In The Bedroom is a powerful portrait of a prosperous family-unit torn apart by selfishness and parental alienation, and also a caustic look at how grief unravels the truth about a mother-son relationship. Wilkerson and Spacek so often play supporting roles that it’s great to see them with fully-expanded characters to play, and Field keeps the whole enterprise grounded firmly in uncomfortable reality.