Thursday, June 21, 2007

Reflections on "Little Children"

First of all, if you haven't seen Little Children, there are some mild spoilers in the following post. If that applied to you, I believe you need to head out to your nearest film rental store and pick up a copy of this amazing piece of cinema.

Two nights ago, a friend was at my house to visit. After looking through my DVD collection he asked if he could borrow Little Children. He had seen half of the film on an airplane coming home from Europe and needed to finish it. Of course, I said yes. After all … it was the best movie of last year (according to me, at least).

When a friend borrows a film that has as much potential to offend as Little Children, I always like to warn them about the potentially “bad” parts. I don’t say this to sound like a puritan, I just try to avoid backlash from offended friends. I told him that the most graphic part of the film comes at the book club meeting when Kate Winslet is talking about Madame Bovary (“It's the hunger - the hunger for an alternative and the refusal to accept a life of unhappiness.”) and the film cuts between Brad and Sarah in the throws of intercourse. In my opinion, this is the climax (no pun intended) of the film and possibly the film’s most important scene. I just told him to look out and be ready to duck for a few seconds if he thought it might be something he'd struggled with.

After he left, I was thinking to myself about Brad and Sarah a bit. They both were tired of their mundane lives and had that “hunger for an alternative.” Both were longing for a change. Both were unhappy. Instead of trying to work things out, they did the “easiest” thing and had an affair.

It got me thinking about how many times I’m tempted to do the “easy” thing. It turns out that the “easy” thing is almost always the most sinful thing. What is easier than holding that anger in at someone who has wronged you? What is easier than wasting time watching tons of inconsequential entertainment? What is easier than clicking on that lurid Internet advertisement? Sin is always more attractive. It’s that “wide road” that the Bible talks about and there is a TON of room to run around and swerve.

But if one keeps running around like a wild man on that wide road, something will be dislocated or interrupted. People will get hurt. Lives will be damaged. Souls will be lost. The end of Little Children shows the effects of Brad and Sarah’s choices, along with the choices of everyone else in the film. It’s not happy stuff and I find it extremely convicting.

The choices I make do not only affect me. They affect everyone around me, whether I know it or not. It’s something that I struggle to be mindful of as I go about my life. Sometimes I’m proud of myself for doing the things that are right and admirable. There are also times when I just want to hide my head in shame for what I’ve done. God’s forgiveness is always there, though, and it is not something to be abused.

The past is the past. It’s written in stone and cannot be changed. God may forget the things we’ve done, but we don’t have the same luck most of the time. It's a matter of trying not to focus on the past, but focusing solely on the hope of a brighter future, illumined by the brightness of the hope we have in Christ.

As the narrator says at the end of Little Children, “You couldn't change the past. But the future could be a different story. And it had to start somewhere.”

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