Film Review – The Little Things

The Little Things (MA)

Directed by: John Lee Hancock

Starring: Denzel Washington, Rami Malek, Jared Leto

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Review by: Julian Wright

After rising to prominence with tear jerking, crowd pleasing, awards baiting fare such as The Blind Side, Saving Mr Banks and The Founder, filmmaker John Lee Hancock tackles grittier material and explores the dark side of human nature in serial killer thriller The Little Things.

When former LA Detective Joe Deacon was unable to solve a grizzly double murder, he became obsessive, unhinged and his life spiraled. Five years later, in 1990, he has since been demoted and relocated as a county deputy sheriff and lives alone in isolated.

When Deacon goes back to his old stomping ground in the big city for a quick work related errand, he finds himself drawn into helping solve a new series of killings with his successor Jim Baxter (Rami Malek), who is leading the case.

There are frustratingly few solid clues to go on, but Deacon and Baxter begin to suspect the creepy looking and sounding Albert Sparma (Jared Leto) of the heinous crimes, but could they just be blinded by their shared obsession to solve the case?

Covering similar thematic ground to David Fincher’s Zodiac already puts The Little Things into a slightly lower league than its fellow thrillers. As the dead ends pile up and the two sleuths obsession and frustrations intensify, one cannot help but be reminded of Fincher’s masterpiece.

Hancock does stretch himself as a filmmaker by creating some moments of genuine suspense and tension, opting to draw out some sequences just that little bit longer than necessary to keep us on edge. However, his film tends to go on tangents and you often feel the same story could have been told and been as equally effective with a more economic running time.

Hancock does score points for keeping this character driven driven rather than dwelling on the grizzly details to get under our skin. Though again, that could just be revealing more Zodiac inspiration.

Washington delivers haunted and emotionally weighed down and drained in his sleep (not necessarily a criticism – he does it often, but he does is well), but Malek is underwhelming in a performance that is initially stilted. You can aim for stoic, but you still have to hint at something going in under the placid surface.

Leto is appropriately creepy as the grimey low-life who toys with the detectives who underestimate him, but Hannibal Lecter he certainly is not. His greasy long hair, prosthetic nose, fake belly and piercing contacts are doing half the heavy lifting when it comes to characterisation.

Hovering somewhere in the middle between Copycat and The Snowman in the way of quality, The Little Things is serviceable hair-raiser that is good to chuck on when you have exhausted the rest of the A-listers in the thriller section of Netflix.

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