The Little Things, by Cameron J. Czaja

Now that we’re almost into a year of getting used to watching movies almost exclusively on streaming, I have to say that I’ve gotten quite used to it. Don’t get me wrong, if have the opportunity to watch a movie in the theater I’ll take advantage of it. However that hasn’t really been the case recently thanks to my crazy work schedule. Fortunately for me, though, there is one streaming service that is out that shows movies both on it’s platform and in theaters and that is HBO Max. 

I briefly mentioned this streaming service before when I reviewed An American Pickle but since then they have made some major changes such as doing simultaneous release of their films in theaters and streaming. This is due to the ongoing pandemic that we are facing, so hopefully I’ll be able to review a lot more Warner Bros. films coming out this year. The first one released using this format was The Little Things. I was somewhat interested in it because of the cast, which included Denzel Washington, Rami Malik, and Jared Leto, all Oscar winners. Still, I was skeptical because, judging from the trailer, it didn’t look like it had much to offer when it comes to originality. Was that the case here? As usual let’s find out.

Set in 1990, the film follows Sheriff Joe “Deke” Deacon (Denzel Washington) who has to go to the Los Angeles to pick up evidence for a murder at a precinct. While he’s there he meets the newly appointed lead detective Jimmy Baxter (Rami Malik) whose trying to solve a string of murders that’s been happening recently. After finding out that his superiors do not need the evidence anymore, Deke decides to stay in L.A. for a bit and help Jimmy with solving the murders that have been happening. The reason for that is because Deke is a former detective and during his time as one he wasn’t able to solve a string of murder cases similar to what Jimmy’s cases and feels obligated to help. From there Deke and Jimmy team up and try and solve these cases with Jimmy going through is standard procedure of doing things while Deke has his own method.

If you’ve ever seen the movie Zombieland, then you probably heard the phrase “you got to enjoy the little things,” and if you’re a true crime fanatic you’ll definitely enjoy The Little Things (I know cheesy joke). Joking aside, though, as a Catholic it does make me think of some of the themes in this film, which is good because the film itself is not the greatest. 

The one major theme that The Little Things makes you think about is the thought of obsession. Both Deke and Jimmy are obsessed with finding the killer of these murders, and if you were in their line of work you would be too. Unlike Jimmy, however, Deke is a bit more obsessed to where some of this methods of gaining information could be seen as questionable. Depending on the circumstances, obsession can be a good thing if it leads to a great outcome, though as Catholics we must always be cautious if we become overly consumed with that feeling as it could lead to sin. Deke is a prime example, with obsessiveness stemming from his past, causing a heart attack and a divorce. Jimmy is unaware of these circumstances when he asks Deke for assistance on the murder cases. With that feeling, though, both characters are reminded that God is still present whether he’s brought up in conservation or an image that’s  referenced throughout the film. This is shown that Deke is aware of his presence and that no matter what he does he knows God is watching and that he can’t escape that feeling of the guilt no matter where he goes. As someone who loves character pieces I was fascinated by these two because as Catholics I feel like we have a certain perspective on what they are going through, but hopefully not to the same degree.

The Little Things does make you think throughout it and is a character study piece that I was able to enjoy. Other than that the film doesn’t offer a whole lot compared to previous true crime films of the past. Not to say it’s formulaic but it just doesn’t offer anything new to the sub-genre. I would cut it slack if it was a adaptation of something but I looked it up and apparently it’s a completely original film with no source material. In general it makes me want to like this film even more because of it’s originally but at the same time it should’ve been better because it is an original. If it weren’t for the lead performances and the focus on their character this probably would’ve been a forgettable film.

Is The Little Things the next great crime drama like Seven or The Silence of the Lambs? Unfortunately no but it’s something worth watching if true crime films are your thing. This film feels like a true crime thriller despite the fact that the story itself is fictional. Even though I watched it on HBO Max, I’m tempted to watch this again but in a theater just to get a better understanding of the key characters. That and I miss going to a theater regularly and this would be a great excuse. Yes, I’m that desperate for a theater experience these days.

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