Little Children

Five years after his superb debut feature, In the Bedroom, writer-director Todd Field returns with another story (2006) set in a close-knit community whose quietness makes the characters' unhappiness seem like thunder. Kate Winslet and Patrick Wilson, both disenchanted with their spouses, meet in a public park with their preschool children, and a series of carefully arranged playdates allows them to nurse their unspoken infatuation until it finally engulfs them. Meanwhile a bitter ex-cop (Noah Emmerich) lets off steam by harassing a paroled pedophile (Jackie Earle Haley) who's come home to live with his doting mother. As in Field's first film, the characters are drawn with such compassion their follies become our own and their desires seem as vast as the night sky. Tom Perotta wrote the source novel; with Jennifer Connelly, Gregg Edelman, and Phyllis Somerville. R, 130 min.

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