starring Denzel Washington, Rami Malek, Jared Leto, Natalie Morales
written and directed by John Lee Hancock
by Walter Chaw For a film aspiring so desperately towards a kind of shimmering, sublime, existential opacity, John Lee Hancock's The Little Things would have done well to be not quite so gaffed and on-the-nose. The epilogue even features someone tying all of the film's alleged mysteries up in a literal bow (well, barrette), which could be sly and knowing postmodernism but, in the hands of Hancock and composer Thomas Newman, his confederate in pabulum, is almost assuredly just as obvious as it appears. I've liked a couple of Hancock's films--especially The Rookie, because it was heartfelt pap. And I've disliked the rest of them for being the same heartfelt pap. Saving Mr. Banks, for instance, is egregious in its Vaseline-smeared defanging of P. L. Travers, the better to pay proper tribute to an at-least-ambiguous Walt Disney. Which is still a far sight better than what Hancock did to infantilize Michael Oher in that completely irredeemable, appallingly paternalistic celebration of White Evangelical Christianity, The Blind Side. I guess I don't mind pap in the tale of an old person getting to play baseball and like it less when it's in the service of making strong women appear weak and Black men appear slow and affable. I guess I don't enjoy heartfelt pap, either, in a long, dark teatime-of-the-soul '90s throwback serial-killer procedural.