Us film critics have a tough job. We sit through the dross so you do not have to. The other day my Harrier Hound Halle Berry and I started and stopped around four million films before we finally stumbled across this little gem. Oh my days, as my streetwise nephew Tarquin always says. What a film. I hadn’t heard anything about ‘The Little Things’, but as soon as I saw the names Denzel Washington and Jared Leto I knew I was in for a treat. And boy was it a treat.
A Neo-noir thriller set in Los Angeles, we follow two detectives, Joe Deacon played by Denzel, and Jim Baxter played by Rami Malek, as they investigate a string of gruesome murders. Their enquiries lead them to a strange loner, Albert Sparma, (Jared Leto), who may or may not be the culprit. I do not want to give away much more information regarding the plot, as it may spoil the genius of the writing. However, to whet your appetite, I will say that there are shades of David Fincher’s ‘Seven’ here, for sure. So if you enjoyed that particular celluloid classic, I think it is safe to say you will love this.
I have a penchant for writing that lets the viewer do some of the work. I hate to be spoon-fed. I do not agree with the maxim that says one should always write for the lowest common denominator and writer and director John Lee Hancock certainly doesn’t fall into this lazy trap. Sentences are left hanging, references are made to ghosts from the past, but nothing is explicit. In regards to Joe Deacon, as the film progresses, we are left tying pieces together as though we are being asked to solve a separate mystery underpinning the brutal murders. Clever stuff.
‘The Little Things’ ticked many boxes for me. I adore American Neo-noir cinema, the Brits do it well too, don’t get me wrong; ‘Mona Lisa’ and ‘Performance’ are up there in my all-time top ten. But there is something about the light and framing in American films that lends itself so well to this genre, with L.A, in particular, setting a seedy atmosphere. So add in great writing, first-class direction, stellar actors at the top of their game, (Jared Leto was nominated for both a Golden Globe and a Screen actors Guild Award for his portrayal) and we are all set for one of the best films I have seen this year.
Those of you who follow my recommendations regularly will know that a film’s score is as important to me as the writing, acting and directing. On this front, the marvel that is Thomas Newman more than delivers. The score can make or break a film for me. Too intrusive and you detract from what is happening; too little and the screen can feel bare. Newman, responsible for creating wonderful scores on films such as ‘American Beauty’, ‘The Green Mile’ and ‘Meet Joe Black’ amongst many others, catches the mood of the film exquisitely. Far from detracting, he subtly enhances nearly every scene.
One thing I love about cinema is stumbling across great films I know nothing about before the opening scenes roll. It is as though you have discovered it all by yourself. Then another thing I love about cinema comes directly into play. Telling absolutely everyone I know that they must see it as soon as possible. Which is what I implore you all to do. Simply marvellous stuff.
‘The Little Things‘ is available to download or now on Amazon Prime.