It's love in the afternoon. Sarah Pierce (Winslet) and Brad Adamson (Wilson), both vaguely dissatisfied with their marriages, start chatting at a suburban playground while pushing their kids on the swings. Several shared parenting sessions later and the lonely pair are passionately going at it while the tots snooze during naptime.
The easiest person to fool is yourself, and that's what everyone in Little Children, a superb satirical drama, is doing. But even as Sarah and Brad pretend that cheating is okay and that in one another they've found a soulmate, deep down they know better. And they're afraid. Amid all the sunshine and plenty of life in suburbia, Children dives into an undertow of dread. Turns out the bogeyman is out there lurking, manifested here in the person of a convicted sex offender (Haley) who has moved back to the neighborhood to live with his mother.
Based on a novel by Tom Perrotta and directed by Todd Field (In the Bedroom), Children is surprisingly funny, sharply observed and exceptionally well-acted. Winslet is brilliant, all pent-up heat and sexual longing. Wilson nails a certain type of laid-back golden boy, forever stuck in his adolescent glory days. And Connelly, as Wilson's wife, and especially Haley, as the tormented flasher, are heartbreakingly good. (R)
Before there was The Real World, Survivor or any other long-running reality show, there was Seven Up. That's the 1964 BBC TV documentary that took an up-close look at a diverse group of British 7-year-olds, using as its starting premise the Jesuit motto "Give me a child until he is 7 and I will show you the man." Every seven years since, director Michael Apted (Nell), a researcher on the original film, has checked on the progress of most of those kids. Now, in 49 Up, the latest chapter, they are well into contented middle age. One is a first-time parent, several are grandparents, a couple have changed partners, and a few are already plotting their retirement—either voluntary or forced.
For viewers who have seen earlier chapters, it's like revisiting old friends. For newcomers, there's enough footage from the previous films that you get a sense of how these people have changed and yet remained the same over the years. What becomes ever clearer, with every passing Up, is how in many ways class is destiny (at least in Britain) and yet how much people can surprise you—and themselves. (Not rated)