Director: John Lee Hancock
Starring: Denzel Washington, Rami Malek, Jared Leto, Natalie Morales
Run Time: 128 mins
The Little Things is a neo-noir crime thriller that heavily wears its inspiration of David Fincher’s Se7en and Zodiac on its sleeve. Denzel Washington stars as a grizzled detective, Joe ‘Deke’ Deacon who crosses paths with recently appointed lead Detective Jimmy Baxter (Rami Malek). The two of the them team to investigate a string of serial murders and their search leads them to a strange loner (Jared Leto), who may or may not be the culprit. Director John Lee Hancock lends an assured hand to the material, allowing the film a familiar feel that revels in its atmosphere. His filmography is quite diverse from Saving Mr Banks and The Founder proving success but his most recent project for Netflix, The Highwaymen, was a howler.
Although familiar, for the majority of The Little Things, I was enamoured by the atmosphere, the development of the characters and the performances. Denzel Washington and Rami Malek make a great pair, Washington particularly convincing as the experienced but unorthodox sheriff. Jared Leto is suitably creepy as the suspect, although he has played this type of role before. The characters are all really well developed and Washington conveys his age and experience in his interactions with former acquaintances brilliantly. The interplay between Malek and his young family is also convincing. The central mystery is enticing as well. Thomas Newman’s score is excellent in being his signature but uncomfortable.
Unfortunately, the film runs into murky water in its final 15 minutes with its controversial ending. Granted, it is original but I found it very anti-climatic, abrupt and like a big nothing and more than a little underwhelming. Hancock justifies the decision to end the film in this way. The film could easily for me have gone on for longer to solve its central mystery, but the film isn’t really interested in this and is more focussed on character.
It is easy to understand the mixed reception to The Little Things but until its ending, I found it to be a riveting drama that is very cine-literate.