With COVID-19 cases dropping dramatically in my part of the state, me and my girlfriend decided to see a movie, knowing that if it was too crowded, or if customers and staff were not properly following COVID-19 protocols, we’d leave. We decided to see John Lee Hancock’s “The Little Things”, and arrived at a mostly empty theater (there was only one other couple, on the other side of the theater), my girlfriend double-masked, and it was relatively safe, as at least half of the seats in the theater were not for sale, and no one was anywhere near us.
The film stars Denzel Washington and Rami Malek as Joe Deacon and Jim Baxter, a Kern County deputy sheriff and Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Office Detective, respectively. Deacon is a former member of the LASD, and is sent there from Kern County to pick up some evidence that might be key to a case there, but he is quickly pulled into Baxter’s case involving a series of murders believed to be committed by the same person. When he worked homicide at LASD, Deacon had the best clear rate in the department, so despite the warnings of his colleagues, Baxter lets him tag along, and after he notices a lookout everyone else misses, he decides to let Deacon work the case full-time.
Their investigation leads them to Albert Sparma (Jared Leto), a worker at a repair store who knows way too many details about the murders, and whose behavior under interrogation is just way too suspicious for him to be innocent.
*Spoilers section starts*
Without spoiling much, we never find out definitively whether or not Sparma is the killer, as he is obsessed with crime, and we later find out that the first murder was an accidental killing by Deacon. It’s left up to viewers whether or not Sparma is the killer of every girl after that one (I personally think he is), but due to sloppy police work by Deacon and Baxter, we never learn the truth.
*Spoilers section ends*
Washington and Malek have great chemistry together, and their characters are clever and innovative, which make the moments in which they fall short all the more frustrating and impactful. There is a rogue element to this story, as both Deacon and Baxter operate on their own through much of the film, often circumventing police procedure to carry out their investigation (throughout most of the film, Deacon isn’t officially working; he’s using vacation days).
The rest of the cast serves in very minor roles in this film; it’s really all about the trio of Deacon, Baxter and Sparma, with Sparma always being one step ahead of them, as well as their only suspect.
The score by Thomas Newman is great but simple, and reminds me of the simple synth music of John Carpenter. It pairs well especially with slow, atmospheric scenes, which was nice to see on the big screen, after a year of relatively fast-paced streaming films. “The Little Things” is a film I might’ve gotten bored watching at home, but it really is quite good seeing in a theater.
The last film I saw in a theater was “The Invisible Man,” and “The Little Things” is of similar quality to that film, as like it, it has a strong concept, solid performances, a twist ending, and pretty solid production values. But it’s also nothing groundbreaking.
It was nice to be in a theater after being cooped up in the house for so long, but I’m probably going to go sparingly until I’m able to get vaccinated. Right now, public trust in the safety of theaters is at a historic low because of COVID-19, which has the surprising effect of making theaters safer than they would normally be, because people are avoiding them, leading to situations where you can socially distance much easier than say, while in the grocery store of on the bus.
But I’m not convinced that they are prepared to handle large crowds, and I don’t think the consumption of concessions should be allowed.
“The Little Things” gets a 7/10