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The Little Things (2021)

Joe Deacon (Denzel Washington) works at the Kern County sheriff’s department and is sent on a very typical excursion to pick up some evidence. His journey to his former stomping grounds, however, will be anything but typical. A series of murders brings the seasoned sheriff’s deputy and talented, newcomer detective Jim Baxter (Rami Malek) together. While the two don’t initially hit it off, the lives of those in their community will act as the glue that holds them together. As they work together they come to terms with the idea that it’s The Little Things in life, and in their line of work, that matter the most.

The Little Things is slow moving and deliberate, making every moment essential to the plot. As each tiny piece of information is provided to viewers, they are able to understand (only when director John Lee Hancock is ready for them to) exactly what everything means. The pacing, which seems unfortunate on the surface, is perfectly executed in order to keep viewers engaged. As things unfold viewers are able to appreciate the subtle nuances of the actors, the story, and the cinematography.

There is a long, drawn out scene toward the middle of the film which includes Malek, Washington, and Jared Leto (Albert Sparma) in a confined space; this scene is a masterpiece. From the writing, to the acting, to the cinematography, everything about this particular scene shines brightly and gives everything else purpose. These super stars, all in close proximity to one another, deliver truly brilliant performances in this moment. Each actor’s ability to feed off of the others, and to, together, build up and thicken the intensity draws in viewers, latches on to them, and refuses to let them go. It is quite literally The Little Things that make this scene so powerful.

In a room where mirrors play a pivotal role, it seems nearly impossible for director Hancock and director of photography John Schwartzman to get the right shot. As beautifully done as this scene is, everything that transpires throughout makes the rest of the film entirely too predictable. What takes place in that room, with those characters, sets the tone for the rest of The Little Things, and strongly urges viewers down a certain path of understanding. While there is something cryptic about that scene, the cast and crew do a nice job of laying things out for the audience, and anyone who is able to decipher what has occurred is sure to figure out the end of the film long before it plays out. There is something about giving the ending away that is somehow appealing to the viewer. Beginning to understand how everything will play out gives viewers a reason to remain engaged and feel like they are part of the story.

The best aspect of The Little Things is the cast and truly fantastic talent. The writing, directing, and cinematography are great, but somehow there is something left to be desired in moments throughout. What guides the story and makes up for the lackadaisical approach at the denouement is the ability of Washington, Malek, and Leto. The three fit their roles perfectly and exude a confidence that carries out into the audience and resonates with everyone watching. That confidence guides the story, helps keep viewers engaged, and ultimately allows The Little Things to be successful. There are moments of brilliance throughout The Little Things and there are times when things feel just average. That combination of moments end up leaving the film, as a whole, feeling good, but not great.

Written & Directed by John Lee Hancock.

Starring Denzel Washington, Rami Malek, Jared Leto, Chris Bauer, Michael Hyatt, etc.




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