Art Of Seduction: Little Children (2006)
is a riveting drama on sexual repression and coping with the loss of freedom in life.
The heroine, Sarah Pierce (Kate Winslet), is a neglected woman. The man she shares a bed with could not be further away emotionally and physically. If he is not working long hours in the office, he is locked away in the attic, watching fetish porn. A once proud woman working on a doctorate in English, she suddenly finds herself way off course and marginalized as a stay-at-home wife.
The hero, Brad Adamson (Patrick Wilson), having already failed the bar exam twice and avoiding his third attempt, has convinced his trophy wife he is something he is not. Here is a man that was following the path of his heart and got really scared. The alternative was to sell a lie, marry a woman of means, and figure it out from there. Now he is trapped in a bland marriage, looking out the window at the kids playing in the street.
Like the perfect, cozy homes on the block, Sarah and Brad both are paragons of contentment. They have the white picket fence, the child, and money to afford one spouse to stay at home, but deep inside is a longing for the dream that got away; a reflection in the bathroom mirror that says "what I am doing with my life?"
Basement & Attic
Frequenting the same park with their children, it is not long before Sarah and Brad forge a relationship. On the surface, it is a coincidental relationship, but day after day and week after week it becomes a moment to feel alive, to matter, and to feel important again.
The catalyst, as in Art Of Seduction: Stoker, is a picture of himself he discovers in Sarah's belongings, validating the fire he feels burning in his chest. Most importantly, Brad comes alive. He returns to his instincts and immediately goes after her. He doesn't second-guess fate or look the gift horse in the mouth. He approaches her in the basement, reaches out, and grabs her.
Having to love Brad in secret, Sarah can finally let her defenses down. Her emotional neglect, night after night of eating alone or feelings miles apart in the same home, suddenly finds itself drowned out in moans, groans, and cries. His emotional neglect, night after night of being turned in bed or being emasculated, trickles down the small of his back and splashes onto the dusty, concrete floor. Deep in the basement of this plaid, suburban home, a fire burns brightly.
Literally, the basement is the room below ground. Figuratively, it is the subconscious mind or that inaccessible place we store suppressed impulses and emotions. Their other rendezvous location is the attic. Literally, the space at the top of house. Figuratively, the space where we store things that we are unable to cope with in the now, either planning to deal with them at another time or hoping that they will fade away.
Flaubert's Madam Bovary is brought up in a pivotal scene. The title character marries the wrong man and makes one foolish mistake after the other. She is also trapped and must make a decision. She can either accept a life of misery or choose to struggle against it. And she chooses to rebel, indulging in trysts to escape the emptiness of her life.
Brad and Sarah, marginalized in their relationships, have made the decision to embark on an extramarital affair. While the movie defends their actions out of negligence, it must be noted that neither is willing to have the tough talk with their significant other.
Like their dreams, the lovers have also stopped fighting for their marriages. This deeper truth is the hardest to swallow because we are witnessing two people who are essentially invisible in their respective homes and yet switched on like a Christmas tree when they are together. In their secret hot box, the mask can come off and they are free to be raw and shockingly honest.
Little Children is a tour de force, pulling back the mask of picturesque America and exposing the dissonance between young ambition, jaded realities, and blighted dreams.
- Sexuality and 'Stoker' (Movie Review)
When a teenager, living in an idyllic town, complains that nothing seems to be happening in her life, a surprise visit from her uncle Charlie will set off a chain of events, irrevocably altering her path.
'Little Children' Movie Trailer
Book Versus Movie
Did you find 'Little Children' better as a book or movie?
© 2013 Oswalda Purcell