Little Children is a 2006 drama film written and directed by Todd Field, based on the novel of the same name by Tom Perrotta. It stars Kate Winslet, Patrick Wilson, Jennifer Connelly, Noah Emmerich, and Jackie Earle Haley. The original music score is composed by Thomas Newman.
Little Children was nominated for the following Academy Awards:
Brad Adamson (Patrick Wilson) is a former college football player who's married to Kathy (Jennifer Connelly), a documentary filmmaker, the couple have a young son, Aaron. Emasculated by his wife's successful career, and somewhat embarrassed at his role as a stay-at-home father (he's failed the bar exam twice), Brad is unhappy, particularly since his wife's role as breadwinner has put him in a helpless situation. Each day, he leaves home with the pretense of going to the library to study, but in actuality he watches skateboarders at the park. He joins a touch football team at the urging of a friend, Larry Hedges (Noah Emmerich), a disgraced former police officer.
Sarah and Brad meet on the playground, where Sarah suggests they hug to shock the mothers nearby. They kiss and realize a sudden attraction. They begin to see each other at the pool, while their children also bond. After a rainstorm, Brad and Sarah have a moment alone in the basement at Sarah's home, where they kiss and have rough sex in the laundry room.
Meanwhile, Ronald "Ronnie" James McGorvey (Jackie Earle Haley), who has served a prison sentence for indecent exposure to a minor, has moved back into the neighborhood to live with his mother. Larry launches a hate campaign against McGorvey, handing out posters, vandalizing his house, harassing and almost assaulting the man and his mother. Larry is responsible for the accidental shooting of a 13-year-old boy during his time as a policeman. He takes out this anger on Ronnie. Ronnie goes to the neighborhood pool and the police are called. Ronnie's mother (Phyllis Somerville) sets him up on a date, though he tells her that he doesn't desire women his own age. The date starts off well but ends with him masturbating in his date's car (beside a playground) and threatening her, while she cries helplessly.
Sarah becomes increasingly serious in her affair with Brad, becoming tearful at not being a part of his life the way Kathy is. Kathy, after hearing Aaron speak about his new friend, Lucy, encourages Brad to invite the Pierce's over for dinner. At dinner, Kathy is unable to confirm her suspicions of an affair concretely, but picks up on the sexual tension between Sarah and Brad. Kathy enlists her mother to spy on Brad during the day. At a football game, Brad is delighted to find Sarah up in the bleachers cheering him on. Brad asks Sarah to run away with him. They agree to meet at the park the next night. A drunk Larry goes to McGorvey's house and further harasses him. When Mrs. McGorvey tries to stop him, Larry pushes her down. She has a heart attack, dying later in the hospital, but is able to write her son a final message: "Please be a good boy." Ronnie is overwhelmed at losing the one person who loved him.
Sarah and Lucy go to the playground to wait for Brad. Brad has said good-bye to his son and packed up some belongings. He sneaks past his unsuspecting wife and runs to the playground, but the skateboarders dare him to try just one jump. Brad can't resist, it results in him falling and blacking out. Sarah leaves Lucy by herself on a swing while trying to comfort Ronnie, who has run into the playground, crying hysterically. Her daughter goes missing and Sarah runs into the street, screaming Lucy's name. She is frightened into realizing that leaving Richard would be a terrible mistake. Once she finds and tearfully embraces her daughter, Sarah and Lucy go home. Brad is taken to the hospital and requests his wife be called, while also disposing of his "good-bye" note to Kathy that he is leaving her for Sarah.
Larry comes to the park to meet Ronnie and apologize for harassing him. Noticing blood on the ground, he is horrified to discover that Ronnie has castrated himself so that he can "be a good boy" as his mother asked. Panicked, Larry takes Ronnie to the hospital. They arrive just as Kathy meets Brad's ambulance at the emergency room doors. The film ends with a narrator explaining: "You couldn't change the past. But the future could be a different story. And it had to start somewhere."