By: Amanda Guarragi
“It’s the little things that matter. It’s the little things that get you caught.”– Joe “Deke” Deacon (Denzel Washington)
The story takes us back to 1990s Los Angeles, where the music was great and women broke out of their shell. We see a young woman, Tina Salvatore (Sofia Vassilieva) driving down the open road with her windows down and singing whatever song was on the radio. She notices headlights behind her, tailing her, and she gets very anxious. The opening scene sets the tone for the rest of the film, as we find out that there is a serial killer on the loose in LA County. Is this a generic crime thriller, that tries to mimic previous neo-noir psychological thrillers? Yes, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that it doesn’t add to the genre.
First and foremost, you have a fantastic cast that elevates the script. Even at the weakest points of the film, if it weren’t for Denzel Washington, we would have gotten an entirely different movie. Washington’s performance brought so much depth to Deputy Sheriff Deacon. He nailed the level of complexity that came with being a former detective on a similar case. We also have Jared Leto giving one of his darkest and most psychological performances to date, as Albert Sharma. The one person that seemed to be underwhelming was Rami Malek, who played a young detective named Jimmy Baxter. It is almost as if the role didn’t suit him? I wanted to believe that he was a good detective but he just couldn’t pull it off for some reason.
The story itself is interesting – as far as serial killer mysteries go – and some pieces of dialogue were perfectly placed in order to connect certain moments. The first half of the film did drag on and Jared Leto could have made an earlier appearance, just to get the ball rolling. It’s understandable that writer-director John Lee Hancock wanted to establish a love-hate relationship with Jimmy and Deke but it took too long. I did enjoy how they tied everything together and how the past came back to haunt the characters. What it does show is the psychological trauma that can be associated with certain cases for detectives. Once Deke and Jimmy became invested in the lives of these women, they wanted to seek justice for their deaths and it consumed their every thought.
The Little Things has really strong moments but the pacing is the main issue of the film. If it weren’t for the stellar performances from Leto and Washington, it would have been harder to sit through. The way the mystery unfolds is interesting and the connection to past serial killers really added to the development of the characters. The film addresses psychological trauma within the police force and the psyche of a suspected killer. If you love mysteries and want to kill a couple of hours, while watching Washington and Leto give brilliant performances, then this is a good one to watch!
Make sure to catch The Little Things in theatres and on HBO Max Friday, January 29th.