Reviews for Todd Field's new film Little Children are spreading farther and wider than movie itself.

While its appearances in film festivals and special critics' screenings have created quite a buzz, New Line Cinema is not doing much to promote the film just yet, and currently it's showing in just 32 theaters nationwide. That's unfortunate. Little Children is likely to earn a long list of Oscar nominations—if more people get chance to see it. Actors Kate Winslet and Jackie Earle Haley—and Field himself—all contribute to this film in award-worthy ways.

But this all sounds strangely familiar. New Line Cinema botched the distribution and promotion of two other heavy-hitters in the last couple of years—The New World and Birth—and thus, some superlative performances and breathtaking cinematography weren't discovered by a large audience until the DVDs arrived many months later. Something's broken that needs to be fixed.

Whatever happens, moviegoers who can reach one of those 32 screens will witness one of the most accomplished American feature films of recent years. Working from a screenplay that he and Tom Perrota adapted from Perrota's novel, Field paints a deeply disturbing picture of a cozy New England neighborhood in which everyone is pursuing happiness in misguided ways.

This is Field's second film about the reckless pursuit of satisfaction. The first, In the Bedroom (2001), reminded us that our desire to judge and punish evildoers can easily lead us into evils of our own. Similarly, Little Children shows what can happen when we respond to disappointment and longing with childish recklessness.

But the movie will be too disturbing for some, because it is unflinchingly truthful about sins such as lust, ...

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