Suffering from tone issues, The Little Things is a decent addition to the neo-noir subgenre. It had tremendous potential and I’m certain that with just a few tweaks it would have been a cult classic. However, what’s done is done and there’s no point going on about what could have been. This is an old school thriller following two detectives trying to catch a serial killer. It even takes place during the nineties, which is not surprising since the director John Lee Hancock wrote the script in 1993. Spielberg was set to direct but found the story too dark and here we are almost thirty years later.
I believe that too dark comment is one of the main things that broke this movie. It needed to be much, much darker and more visceral, not to mention gory. It needed to make you uncomfortable and angry. We are talking about a serial killer targeting young girls after all. The story feels like it’s written by a young guy fascinated by these themes having trouble molding them into a coherent narrative. The development of the plot is uneven and often times there’s no natural transition between developments. The movie is, however, visually impressive with that clear, saturated, and dark vibe, reminiscent of the cult classic from the nineties Se7en. Editing was also really tight and the script shined at times. I mean the line “no rest for the ugly” is one for the books. So, it’s not all bad news with The Little things and this slow-burning thriller does have something to offer.
Joe Deacon is an experienced detective who used to work in Los Angeles but decided to move to a small town of Bakersfield some time ago. He’s investigating a murder of a young girl that seems to have some similarities between a series of murders happening in the City of Angels. Jimmy Baxter, a young hotshot is in charge of the investigation as the pressure on the police to find the killer starts to increase. He asks Deacon for help and the two of them start closing in on the killer…
I seriously doubt that The Little Things would end up on this site if it weren’t for Denzel Washington. His performance here was spot on, which is not surprising since he’s been in a couple of similar movies. Fallen and Devil in a Blue Dress, might be the most similar when it comes to noir vibes although The Bone Collector and Out of Time are also really similar. You would think that Jared Leto would fuck up his role and Rami Malek would be perfect as the young detective trying to solve the murders but it’s the other way around. Rami’s performance was so subdued that he seemed disinterested and like he’s just waiting for this to be over. On the other hand, I just loved Jared here. He was creepy, intense and intriguing, just what the role required.
In the end, The Little Things could be interesting for the fans of the genre and those of us hungry for some noir/serial killer movies. Unlike most of the reviewers, I really liked the ending. It was one of the few things that pushed the movie away from the generic label. Although I do understand the need for a classic narrative, especially in a movie with such tone and story issues. I think that the style they were looking for is found in S. Craig Zahler movies like Bone Tomahawk, Brawl in Cell Block 99 and Dragged Across Concrete. Check out our Rabbit Reviews tag serial killer movies for similar flicks. Enjoy.
Director: John Lee Hancock
Writer: John Lee Hancock
Cast: Denzel Washington, Rami Malek, Jared Leto, Chris Bauer, Michael Hyatt, Terry Kinney, Natalie Morales, Isabel Arraiza
Fun Facts: Denzel Washingtons daughter Olivia plays a role in the movie.