I met Shampoo this afternoon to catch a special screening of Letters from Iwo Jima at Lido, but having gotten the timing wrong, we ended up catching Little Children instead as we killed time until Letters from Iwo Jima started.

Little Children begins with a news report of an ex-convict recently released from prison. Despite having a restraint order barring him from going within 100m of any school or park, the paedophile with a psychosexual disorder returns to live with his mother in the town of East Wyndham which, like any suburban area, is crawling with families with children.

Needless to say, the parents in the town are very concerned, particularly Larry, an ex-cop who has taken it upon himself to harass the paedophile into leaving town.

Larry is friends with Brad, a hunky house-husband whose wife, Kathy, works all day producing PBS documentaries. As she wears the pants in the family, Brad feels emasculated and tries to find ways of rediscovering his masculinity, such as joining a touch rugby team when invited by Larry, who he doesn’t really like.

As Brad takes his son out to the park one day, he chances across Sarah, a housewife discovered her husband addicted to internet pornography. The lonely pair, estranged from their spouses, begin a secret relationship. Each one enters the relationship knowing that it can never be real, but driven by their desires for companionship, they continue in this fantasy world of theirs… until reality finally sets in.

As the story gradually unfolds, it becomes clear that the “children” in this movie are the four central adults themselves. Their immaturity is shown in their choice to indulge themselves in their fantasy world rather than face reality. Towards the end of the movie, each has consistently made choices prompted by their own desire “to feel more alive” by escaping their own depressing lives.

However, it is only when they decide to introduce reality into their fantasy world does the fantasy world collapse. Each one is then forced to make a difficult choice - to continue in their collapsing fantasy world, or to confront reality and make something right out of the fantasy lives they have been living.

Little Children is a very human story that contains many good messages, especially for those of us who have made wrong choices in life. It offers us hope that things can be better, but also challenges us to cast aside fantasy which tastes sweet but leaves a bitter aftertaste, for reality which is ultimately rewarding.

I won’t be doing a review of Letters from Iwo Jima yet, because I think my review will be published soon.

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