(In theaters, February 2007) I have a particular loathing for the “suburban adultry” sub-genre of melodrama, enough that I try to avoid them unless they’re (inevitably) nominated for the Academy Awards. Imagine my surprise, then, at how Little Children turned out to be an almost enjoyable example of the form. It’s not nearly as clever as it thinks it is: the ponderous narration is almost completely useless, bringing little to the film that we can’t already see for our own. But the same narration gives a pretentious degree of self-importance to the film, one that takes it into a darkly comic realm. Oh, sure, it’s not laughs from beginning to end: the film’s most consistent thematic motif is how it keeps playing with expectations: just as you think the story may aim toward redemption, it twists the knife again, transforming heroes into heels, losers into bastards and bored housewives into masters of manipulation. Little Children, at the very least, won’t allow you to get too comfortable, and that very well may be why I respect it despite my complete lack of interest in what it has to say. After all, how can one dismiss a film that includes the line “Madame Bovary is not a slut, she’s one of the greatest characters of Western Literature!”?