The Little Things

The Little Things ★★★½

John Lee Hancock first wrote The Little Things in 1990, and I think its reception would have been a little warmer if he’d been able to produce it soon after that, because the 2021 version of the movie doesn’t do much that Zodiac and Se7en didn’t already do better. It’s a bleak detective story that explores obsession and the moral gray areas of investigative work.

But, at the same time, I’m glad it didn’t come to fruition until now. Even though the story and character beats are familiar, they’re still worthwhile, and it’s refreshing to see a star-driven genre movie from a major studio with no franchise strings attached.

The core trio of actors make the material thoroughly compelling. Denzel Washington excels with a quiet, physical performance, brilliantly embodying the deflated spirit of a man who’s always one step behind despite (mostly) good instincts. Jared Leto is well cast as an absolute creep, nailing the detached gaze and gait of a guy who could be a serial killer, but might just be an awful troll. Rami Malek’s performance is the hardest to pin down at the beginning, but he settles into a reluctant, dark mania that serves the movie well by its surprising conclusion.

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