“The Little Things” doesn’t let audiences trust anyone

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“The Little Things”, written and directed by John Lee Hancock, was a part of the Warner Bros. deal that allowed movies to be released on both HBO Max and in theaters on the same day. This made the movie a point of discussion even before it came out. Shortly after, Jared Leto was nominated for a Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actor, which became a talking point in the discussion.

This article is about neither of those. “The Little Things,” besides being a mediocre story with talented actors, does something rare in movies. It creates a textbook story on how to make characters that audiences cannot trust.

The story itself revolves around three main characters, Joe Deacon (Denzel Washington) Jim Baxter (Rami Malek), and Albert Sparma (Jared Leto) Deacon is a former homicide detective that went crazy after he couldn’t solve a case and now is a cop in a small town in California. Baxter is the person who took Deacon’s job when he left and is on the same path as Deacon. Baxter is obsessive about the case; he will do anything to solve it for the victims. Sparma is our “antagonist” in the story.

The reason we can’t trust the characters is because Deacon is simple, they all do things in the story to lose our trust. Deacon, besides being obsessive to the point of hallucination, goes behind people’s backs in order to find the information he needs to solve a case. He’ll go undercover, he’ll lie about who he is, and he’ll threaten in order to find the truth.

Baxter is a little more complicated, and the reason we can’t trust him is a spoiler. Baxter, like Deacon, is obsessive about the cases that he works. We lose trust in Baxter in the ending when Baxter kills Sparma.

The climax is stolen straight from 1995’s “Seven”, minus a box, and this is where we completely lose trust in our characters. Instead of going to the authorities, as good cops should, our characters decide to cover up what happens. Deacon and Baxter both hide Sparma’s dead body and essentially give up on the case.

The lack of trust doesn’t end here. In the ending scene, we see Baxter has mail from Deacon. Encased in the envelope is a red barrette and a note that says no angels. One of the girls who went missing had a red barrette, and Deacon didn’t want Baxter to go through the same thing that he did with the victims “haunting” him. The only problem is that it wasn’t a red barrette from Sparam’s apartment like Baxter thought, it’s from a package that Deacon bought. The film ends with the rest of the barrette’s being burnt as Deacon walks away.

 At the end of the film, we don’t know the killer, and we don’t trust Deacon or Baxter. This is not necessarily a bad thing. In the age of the anti-hero; Tony Soprano, Walter White, etc., audiences should be used to the main character not always following the “good guy” path. The lack of trust is not the reason you shouldn’t watch the movie, in fact, it is the reason you should.


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