Reviews | Written by Jack Bottomley 13/02/2021



When it comes to hunting down serial killers, we all know the little things can be the most important, but in writer/director John Lee Hancock’s new neo-noir crime drama/thriller, those little things speak not only to the crime but the lingering effects of investigation.

The Little Things stars Denzel Washington as deputy Sheriff Joe “Deke” Deacon, who is called back to the department he used to work for in LA to collect evidence related to a murder case. However, he soon finds himself being called in to aid with a twisted murder investigation that has rocked the department, and put to use his old skills to help crack it. The murder soon forms frightening parallels with a case he investigated years prior, which led to his relocation, so he joins forces with driven young LA detective Jim Baxter (Rami Malek), to put to bed this case and the demons it created once and for all.

The influence of David Fincher’s Seven is felt in many entries in this genre but The Little Things in particular seems to draw inspiration from it, the finale in particular even has an aesthetic similarity. And while this film will probably not knock veteran crime fans for six (or should that be seven?) in quite the same way, this atmospheric offering still ought to satisfy, thanks to a the efforts of an exceptional cast who keep things as compulsively watchable as a true crime documentary series.

Denzel Washington and Rami Malek make for a brilliant lead duo at the head of the film, convincing entirely as the likeable but afflicted and battle hardened veteran, and the dedicated and unshakable younger detective respectively. Though it is Jared Leto’s creeping support that probably lingers most strongly here. His performance has deservingly earned him awards attention of late and, as Albert Sparma, he chills the bloodstream with his fixated stare, as he makes you squirm with his uncomfortably enigmatic presence and curiously wisecracking lines. Bringing to mind the kind of show stealing performance Aaron Taylor-Johnson unleashed in Nocturnal Animals. There is also some brilliant supporting turns dotted throughout by many familiar faces, the best of which being the warm and moral turn by Michael Hyatt as Flo.

The Little Things is an old school procedural thriller, one that allows its grim atmosphere and slowly unfolding story to take centre stage, complete with growled dialogue and bleak twists. Some dialogue and certain sub-plots do occasionally get lost in the case files but what really makes this True Detective-style story take hold, other than the aforementioned roster and great acting talent, is Hancock’s emotional intent with the story. Hancock captures the destructive power that past faults can hold over us, and the obsession that comes with pressure, inconclusiveness and unresolved emotions. And in a conclusion (that has proved a tad divisive but feels right at home considering the tone of the film) that subverts the big revelation expectations, we get left with the crushing feeling of just what weight is carried by such feelings, and whether the truth can actually be crueller and more evil than a lie.

The little things indeed can make the biggest difference sometimes, but those little things can also leave the largest scar, a scar not easily healed.

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