You don’t see films like The Little Things anymore. What makes John Lee Hancock’s film so different from the pack? Two key elements. One obvious thing is the film’s pacing. It takes its time to develop the plot, and you don’t see any unnecessary action for the sake of cheap entertainment. Secondly, the film strays away from the standard antagonist/protagonist storyline. There is no clear villain or hero. Finally, the film ends without a clear-cut resolution. It ends on some level but leaves the heavy lifting to the audience. When put together, all of those elements make the film unique in the genre.
Taking the Time
Upon the first watch, The Little Things seems unconcerned with knocking you out of your seat. For better or worse, the pacing is slow and steady. The plot slowly unfolds, and as a result, you can pick up on clues and details along the way. While some may find the pacing a bit boring, it actually benefits the story and the broader genre. You often don’t see a film take its time developing the plot when many are concerned with spectacle and awe.
Good and Bad Guys
The crime/cop film genre is the epitome of good versus evil or good guy versus bad guy. As you watch The Little Things, you expect that. What you get is something a bit unexpected and complex. As is the case with most real-life circumstances, you only get good intentions. Most of the film is about that. It also has something to say about false appearances. Characters are what they seem in some cases and others, not at all. It adds dimensionality to every character as a result.
Ending on a Note
Another common thing you expect from a crime/cop film is a tidy resolution. For better or worse, you expect the story to conclude definitively. If it doesn’t, a sequel usually comes along. We don’t expect to see any sequels coming down the pipeline for this film. While it does not necessarily have an open-ended conclusion, it lacks a definitive ending. You wonder what happens to the characters after the events of the film. Part of that feeling is because of a bombshell that drops right before the ending. Ultimately the film leaves the ending to the audience to decipher and digest.
While not perfect, the film gets enough right to get you in on The Little Things.