Metascore
75

Generally favorable reviews - based on 34 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 28 out of 34
  2. Negative: 0 out of 34
  1. Unnervingly good, Little Children is one of the rare American films about adultery that feels right--dangerous, hushed, immediate.
  2. Perrotta and Field succeed, not by guessing, but by knowing this world. They understand it enough to see it with cold precision -- and to approach it, at times, with disarming warmth. The characters aren't types, but people.
  3. Reviewed by: Ken Fox
    100
    Once again, Field has crafted and grown-up movie that grabs you by the throat, drags you in and doesn't let you go until the very bitter end.
  4. The movie is one of the few films I can think of that examines the baffling combination of smugness, self-abnegation, ceremonial deference and status anxiety that characterizes middle-class Gen X parenting, and find sheer, white-knuckled terror at its core.
  5. A jolting, artfully made drama set in and around a suburban playground somewhere between "American Beauty" and "In the Bedroom" on America's psychic highway.
  6. 91
    Like "In the Bedroom," the film is studded with brilliant acting, and it's all rendered with gorgeously fluent technique. The result is a film that skirts cruelty and easy satire for deep, troubling realities -- a nearly thorough triumph, in short.
  7. It's as absorbing as a train wreck, and its brand of heavy drama is so rare in movies these days that everything about it seems amazingly fresh.
  8. Reviewed by: John DeFore
    90
    Providing richness of detail and metaphor, elegantly blueprinted themes and impressive mastery of a constantly shifting tone, Little Children does just that. It is a deeply satisfying film.
  9. Reviewed by: Don R. Lewis
    90
    While the screenplay for Little Chilldren is basically perfect, it's the acting that really drives the film home.
  10. 90
    The result is a movie that is challenging, accessible and hard to stop thinking about...But in too many recent movies intelligence is woefully undervalued, and it is this quality -- even more than its considerable beauty -- that distinguishes Little Children from its peers.
  11. A hugely absorbing social drama that is, by turns, excruciating, sad and sardonic.
  12. 90
    A sharply intelligent and affecting view of suburban blues.
  13. 88
    This unnervingly funny and quietly devastating film -- director Todd Field's first since his smash 2001 debut with "In the Bedroom" -- pulls you in like a magnetic-force field.
  14. Built from a perfect story-telling collaboration.
  15. 88
    The rarest of movies - a literary multi-character drama. From the erudition of the voiceover narrative to the three dimensionality of the characters, Field's film is the closest it's possible to get to a book without reading one.
  16. Reviewed by: Helen O'Hara
    80
    This is complex, thought-provoking cinema.
  17. Reviewed by: Dana Stevens
    80
    All of the actors, most notably Winslet, are superb, but the movie belongs to Jackie Earle Haley, a former child actor.
  18. Reviewed by: Richard Schickel
    80
    Little Children does not have quite the bleak discipline of Field's more keenly judged "In the Bedroom." Yet it is a more ambitious film and a considerable achievement.
  19. 80
    The characters are drawn with such compassion their follies become our own and their desires seem as vast as the night sky.
  20. During its two hours-plus running time, Field's movie veers from dark comedy to melodrama, not always gracefully. But tonal inconsistencies don't blunt the keenness of its satire, so sharp that I walked out with emotional razor burn.
  21. Reviewed by: Claudia Puig
    75
    Little Children maintains much of the power, humor and nuance of Tom Perrotta's wonderful novel, but seems unsure if it's a satire or a serious drama.
  22. 75
    What Little Children understands so well, and so poignantly, is a kind of parental existentialism that hits 30- somethings with kids: How does having children make you such a less interesting adult?
  23. 75
    Decades removed from his dreamy Kelly in the "Bad News Bears" movies, Haley pulls off the remarkable feat of bringing childlike vulnerability to his character while still suggesting ungodly menace.
  24. Reviewed by: David Ansen
    70
    The Madame Bovary-in-suburbia motif may sound familiar, yet the unusual mix of satire and melodrama feels fresh. Not everything works (beware the football scenes), but this adaptation of Tom Perrotta's novel is hard to shake off.
  25. Reviewed by: Todd McCarthy
    70
    Like "In the Bedroom," Little Children, at well over two hours, is somewhat long for an intense, intimate drama, and arguments could run many ways concerning what could be tightened or excised.
  26. 67
    It's Winslet who is the heart and soul of Little Children, and when she makes a desperate, final bid to reclaim her soul, it's both horrifying and heart-rending.
  27. 63
    Slowly loses its grip, becoming just another story about infidelity, albeit an exceptionally polished, well-acted one.
  28. To these disappointed eyes, Little Children seems a frustrating mess.
  29. By turns jokey, portentous, and pretentious, the movie immediately sizes up each of its protagonists and never budges from that assessment.
  30. 50
    Instead of being supple and expansive like the book, this Little Children is heavy-handed and snarky.
  31. An unusually powerful mess, a broad satire of suburban self-indulgence with little in the way of a consistent style, and with a character who's serious business: a convicted child molester.
  32. Reviewed by: Ella Taylor
    50
    This overly long movie, made sluggish by a superfluously novelistic narrator, feels divided against itself, driven by opposed impulses of tragedy and dark humor that make it impossible for us to identify with these lost souls' break for freedom or wait for them to grow up.
  33. Mr. Field is a filmmaker with an exceptional gift for directing actors -- he's an actor himself -- and an eye for telling detail. (His cinematographer here, as in the previous film, is Antonio Calvache, and again the images are quietly sumptuous.) Yet I was put off by Little Children's satiric tone.
  34. 40
    It's an unholy mess, simultaneously too Gothic and too sarcastic, that preaches liberation and delivers only puritanism. It's a craftsmanlike but robotic imitation of "interesting" filmmaking, only in patches, and by accident, the real thing.
User Score
7.2

Generally favorable reviews- based on 149 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 50 out of 63
  2. Negative: 9 out of 63
  1. Jun 11, 2013
    8
    This is how you make a drama. The director's very keen way of portraying everything is quite spectacular. It is deeply thought provoking, chilling, funny, and quite scary at times thanks to the wonderful performances by the cast. Full Review »
  2. Jun 2, 2013
    8
    For a film that is well over 2 hours in length, Little Children never collapses under the many characters, emotions, and themes it presents. Solid film; well acted. Good lead performances from Winslet (as usual) and Wilson, and some really good supporting roles for Jennifer Connelly and Jackie Earl Haley. Full Review »
  3. Dec 21, 2012
    0
    The subplots are unbelievably generic, and not even done in an original way. Jackie Earle Haley's plotline is the most interesting, but as the movie progresses, it becomes sympathetic to the pedophile, and the movie's overall message seems to be about acceptance, even for someone like that. Apart from that, the acting is very overrated, even from Kate Winslet, who I usually love. Normally, I would just think this is an ordinary, annoyingly generic movie, worthy of maybe a three or a four. However, the idea of the pedophile being portrayed as a sympathetic character, and that those who deride him are considered villains, cause this movie to be an easy zero for me. Full Review »