When I started watching The Little Things, so much of its style looked very familiar. There are a lot of great neonoir elements including a green tinge to the lighting and the use of shadows, windows, and even an awesome shot from outside a diner. The film also conjured a good deal of nostalgia for the 1990s-era thrillers that I love revisiting from time to time. It turns out that familiarity stems from the fact that this screenplay is nearly 30 years old, written by John Lee Hancock before his breakout hit, Seven. Although this familiar style works well in the movie’s favor, the suspenseful first act gradually falls apart, leading to an unsatisfying, somewhat lazy ending.
In The Little Things, Joe Deacon (Denzel Washington) is a disgraced detective working as a beat cop in a small California town. He heads down to Los Angeles to help hotshot detective Jim Baxter (Rami Malek) find a serial murderer. As the pair investigates the murders, a shocking truth about Deacon’s own past threatens to come to the surface. Jared Leto also stars as the primary suspect, Albert Sparma.
The opening sequence of this movie had me holding my breath. A young woman, Tina (Sofia Vassilieva) drives down a back highway when another car speeds by, tailgating her, then slowing down to follow her. She does everything she’s supposed to do, but for a woman like me who lived alone for years, the scene was a nightmare. That palpable tension plays out during the first act of the movie, but, despite several haunting scenes, the film’s conclusion does not bring the suspense to any satisfying end. Everything wraps up rather neatly, however horrible it is for the characters, but the story lacks a real forward drive, so the surprises feel unearned.
Although I have quibbles with the movie’s writing, the art direction is beautiful, capitalizing on the film noir elements of the story. The casting is also outstanding. Rami Malek’s angular face is practically designed to play a hardboiled detective. I couldn’t help but think that he would have been huge in the 1930s. Similarly, Denzel Washington really plays into the 1990s thriller element. I was as surprised as Jared Leto was that he was nominated for a Golden Globe for this role, in which he was gaunt and creepy, but not exactly a standout.
With its beautiful lighting and great acting, The Little Things is satisfying for its nostalgic elements, but in and of itself it is not above average for its genre.
The Little Things is in theaters and streaming on HBO Max through the end of February. It was written and directed by John Lee Hancock, runs 2 hours 7 minutes, and is rated R for violent/disturbing images, language and full nudity.
Over on Netflix, the French mystery drama Lupin stars Omar Sy as Assane Diop, a thief inspired by the adventures of Arsène Lupin, star of the classic French mysteries. When a famous necklace that belonged to Marie Antoinette shows up at the Louvre, Assane concocts a plan to steal the necklace, part of his broader mission to avenge his father, who was framed for stealing the necklace decades before.
Lupin is a must-watch for fans of the BBC Sherlock series. It puts a new twist on the classic stories of a gentleman thief who is fun to watch in action. After years of series about antiheroes, it was refreshing to watch a show about a thief who is charming, smart, and not really a bad guy. Omar Sy is excellent in the role and his chemistry with Ludivine Sagnier as his ex-wife, Claire, and Etan Simon as his son, Raoul, gives the story a human heart to keep it anchored. My husband and I were distressed when we went to put on the next episode only to discover that the first season ended after just five installments and on a big cliffhanger. We will eagerly await season two.
Lupin was created by George Kay and runs for 5 episodes. It is rated TV-MA. Viewers have the option to watch it in the original French with subtitles or dubbed in English. The English dubbing is not terribly cheesy if you go that way.
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