The Little Things


Denzel Washington is in the rarified atmosphere where he can choose with discrimination the projects in which he becomes involved. That generally means, if you have liked him before, he will be impressive again. That is certainly the case with “The Little Things.”

Washington plays what first seems like a washed up policeman, but this well crafted story reveals there are several layers still to be discovered.

As Kern County Deputy Sheriff Joe Deacon our hero is sent down to LA on rather improbable circumstances (retrieve some evidence), and that opens the door for the plot to evolve. There he meets a young, scrappy detective (Rami Malek). Their initial oil and water mixture makes their eventual mutuality of purpose quite interesting.

Writer and director John Lee Hancock wrote the screenplay three decades ago, and indeed the film is set in the early 90s. Hancock’s prior orbit in Clint Eastwood’s world served Hancock well. Although the film runs over two hours (long by Eastwood standards), there is a certain economy and tautness to most of the scenes.

As the two disparate detectives circle their prime suspect, the excellent supporting cast falls away (Natalie Morales, Terry Kinney, Chris Bauer, Joris Jarsky, Michael Hyatt). Jared Leto (a long way from his lead singer duties in Thirty Seconds to Mars) becomes the focus as the bad guy, but his elusiveness keeps the viewers guessing.

With all three lead actors having an Oscar (Washington has two on his shelf), the acting is indeed superb. As always, Thomas Newman (the most temp-ed composer in Hollywood) delivers a score that evokes the right balance of edginess and focus.

The broader meaning of the film’s title unfolds slowly, but decisively.

Trailer available here.

Brad Auerbach has been a journalist and editor covering the media, entertainment, travel and technology scene for many years. He has written for Forbes, Time Out London, SPIN, Village Voice, LA Weekly and early in his career won a New York State College Journalism Award.