The Little Things: Film Review

The Little Things

Having Denzel Washington, Rami Malek, and Jared Leto – three Oscar winners – in one movie would make you think that it’s a sure-fire hit, so I went in with high expectations for The Little Things – and came away rather disappointed.

The film, set in the ’90s, begins with Joe ‘Deke’ Deacon (Washington), a Deputy Sheriff from the Bakersfield area, who is sent to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, his old workplace, to collect evidence for a case. He meets new detective Jimmy Baxter (Malek) who invites him along to a murder scene, which has striking similarities to an old serial murder case Deke was unable to solve. Deke takes leave from his job so he can help Baxter solve it.

The Little Things, written and directed by John Lee Hancock, made me think of ’90s crime thrillers like Seven, Kiss the Girls, and The Bone Collector (another Washington movie) as well as TV procedurals like True Detective so it never stopped feeling unoriginal and familiar. It started off so promising but plateaued shortly after Albert Sparma (Leto) came into the picture because it became less about them working the investigation – finding clues and suspects etc – and more about them being obsessed with nailing this creepy guy; it just didn’t have much of a murder-mystery vibe to it or a ton of substance. I had hoped it was all building to a really cool mind-blowing twist so the final act was anticlimactic and the ambiguity of the ending didn’t do it for me. There are some interesting revelations along the way but not enough to properly reel me in.

Washington is stellar in the lead role. Deke looks tired and defeated and he’s mentally tortured, troubled and could perhaps use some professional help. His partnership with Baxter makes for an unlikely buddy duo but I liked how the two very different men – one who takes an old school approach to the investigation while the other is new – came together to form an alliance for a common cause. While Deke is haunted by his past, Baxter is consumed by the present case and the frustrating inability to nail down Sparma.

There was a lot of uproar on Twitter when Leto got nominated for the Golden Globes and Screen Actors Guild awards for his transformative role and I don’t get what all the fuss was about. Sure, it’s not an amazing performance, but it doesn’t warrant that reaction. Leto looks very different, having lost a ton of weight to give him a skeletal-looking face, in addition to dark, sunken eyes, dodgy teeth, and very greasy hair that looks like it hasn’t seen shampoo in a long time. He changed his voice and line delivery too to make him successfully come across like a sinister weirdo.

Given the top-tier cast and the strong beginning, it’s a real shame The Little Things became such a let down.

Available to rent at home via premium video-on-demand platforms from Thursday 11th March

Rating: 3 out of 5.

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