(Note: This review previously ran during our TIFF coverage, and is rerunning again because the film opens this weekend. - ed)
What lies beneath the surface of life in a picturesque town, where mothers gather with their children at a neighborhood park, the town pool is the center of summer social life, and married couples lead what appear to be perfectly normal, happy lives with their families? What secrets hide beneath the facade of these seemingly idyllic lives? In Todd Field'sLittle Children, adapted with author Tom Perotta from his novel of the same name, people's lives intersect in unexpected and even dangerous ways, and nothing is quite as it seems.
Sarah (Kate Winslet) is a stay-at-home mom with an almost-PhD in English Lit. She is mired in deep unhappiness, almost an extended case of postpartum depression. Sarah chose to stay home with daughter Lucy, who is about three when we meet them, and she refuses to even consider child care; she's doing the stay-at-home mom thing, it seems, because it's the "right" thing to do, not because it's what she really wants. Sarah's depression and misery over the life she's found herself trapped in prevents her from really connecting with Lucy, this "unknowable little person" who is looking to her for love and nurturing. Sarah, to be blunt, is not good at the art of being a stay-at-home-mom -- and the other moms at the park let her know it in those subtle and insidious ways women use to attack each other.