It’s a lot of little things that makes this movie difficult to watch.
Probably Not Worth Your Time
How to talk about my thoughts of The Little Things? I guess to start, I’ll help you understand why I am opening with a question. Have you ever watched a movie or a tv show, or even read a book where while you are experiencing it you begin to understand that this feels very similar to “X” example? And then your second thought is and X was so good why isn’t this? Well that’s kind of the feeling I have with this movie, and I’m struggling to fully express my thoughts without first giving you that background. I have watched plenty of crime/drama/thriller’s in my life, and those prior experiences make this movie feel lesser than what I’m sure someone fresh to the genre may find as a decent if not good starting point.
Me though? I can’t say I was a huge fan. Which is all the more difficult for me since the three leads of this movie are fun to watch. Denzel Washington, Rami Malek, Jared Leto, these are all Academy Award winning actors. They are in a genre that suits their talents, and they are playing roles that fit them well, but damn it, this movie falls flat for me.
The general premise of The Little Things is Rami Malek’s Jim Baxter is leading a case to find a murderer who is killing young women in very specific ways. This is a serial killer, with a pattern. Washington’s Joe Deacon is a washed up former detective who once had Baxter’s exact position. Something went wrong though, and it destroyed his life, to where all he has are cases and the inability to let it go. This pair latch onto Leto’s Albert Sparma, a creepy guy who fits the bill of the murderer. Thus begins a story of trying to prove that the slime ball did it. Yet at the same time the film is trying to build up a focus of comparing the two lawmen, showing what happens to someone who let his job consume him, and someone just starting to fall down that path. Both of these stories have promise and could be an interesting journey. The problem is when they come to a head in the end, it’s just not very satisfying.
I’m convinced that if given several more hours this film’s conclusion could have worked. But it also could have simply been a structural problem. The film gives more of a spotlight to Washington’s Baxter, but it’s Malek’s character that actually goes through a significant transformation. If we were given more time with him, it might have felt more consequential, instead it’s focus on following an already relatively ruined man doesn’t really work too well unless the mystery leads to a conclusion that gives him something he didn’t have before. This film doesn’t do that.
Stepping away from the heart of what makes this thing tick, I still have to give it to the trio of leads. They are still entertaining to watch. Yet at times Washington’s character had mannerisms to him that really misled me to an unsatisfying conclusion by the end of the film. It’s like he was trying to will a more interesting story for his character that never got the onscreen moment to confirm it.
All this is to say, somewhere there is a really great crime mini series that these three actors could have been a part of. Instead The Little Things is a movie with missed potential that left me disappointed and thinking about wanting to go and watch HBO’s True Detective again.