No shock here, Denzel Washington is still really good at his job.
The Little Things was released in 2021, and was directed by John Lee Hancock. The film stars Denzel Washington as Deputy Deke, Rami Malek as Detective Baxter, and Jared Leto as Albert Sparma. Deputy Deke returns to Los Angeles 5 years after leaving over unsolved cereal killings to help solve a new case when the killer begins striking again.
The performances are all absolutely stellar, with Washington stealing the show. He gives an excellent, and unique look on an obsessive officer with seemingly no soul. Moments such as seeing Deke park his truck right in front of a line of other parked cars, or him observing a crime scene in his own way also give a lot of attention to his character.
Malek shines as well, watching him fall into a sort of madness over this case is really exciting to watch. Arguably though, the best parts on the acting side are seeing the leads interacting, and working off one another. An interrogation near the end of the film shows this perfectly.
The story, particularly the way it unfolds, is divisive, to say the least. There is no big shoot-out or car chase. The narrative mainly consists of people talking, looking at each other, or sitting in silence. It will work for some people, but not for everyone.
A lot of the scenes throughout the film, not just the first act, are filled with hidden exposition and this works in favor of the story, always keeping the viewer on the edge of their seat.
It’s impossible not to draw comparisons to David Fincher’s Se7en, or even Joel Schumacher’s 8mm, The Little Things is disturbing, but the story takes original turns that make this feel distinct enough to stand out in a crowd. It doesn’t depend on only showing dead bodies, or uncomfortable imagery to set the tone, and shows those things in ways that enhance the grounded feel, rather than take away from the setting. The ending in particular went in a direction that didn’t rely on other crime stories.
The cinematography is some of the best of the year. It’s clear by how meticulously each shot is framed, or even by how they’re staged, that this area of the film was well thought out.
The editing struggled at times, with several match-to-action errors, and very, very odd uses of quick cutting in simple dialogue scenes.
Even in moments where The Little Things doesn’t excel, it’s an intriguing story that clearly had care put into it, and will leave an impact on you.
[My grade for The Little Things is a B+]