‘Little Children,’ Todd Field, Tom Perrotta

Adapted screenplay contender

DISTRIB/RELEASE DATE: New Line/Oct. 6 (limited), Nov. 3 (wider)

ADAPTED FROM: Perrotta’s novel “Little Children.”

STORYLINE: Amid neighborhood alarm at the return of a convicted sex offender and the individual frustrations of their own lives, two people find precarious solace in each other’s company.

ABOUT THE SCRIPT: Field says that there were two principal threads adapted from Perrotta’s book. “One is the idea of judgment, self-judgment, the judgment of others … the other (is) matriarchy, not in a gender way, but matriarchy in the best sense, about nurturing and encouragement.”

BIGGEST CHALLENGE: “I think always the big problem for the transformation from novel to screen is all the backstory,” Perrotta says. “You just can’t put too much of that stuff in. I’m always conscious of what actors can put in and what’s completely essential.”

BREAKTHROUGH IDEA: The inclusion of the novel’s narrator in the film. Says Field: “The whole script was built around the idea. I was gonna keep Perrotta in the film as much as possible. That was my attraction (to the project).”

CHOICE LINES: A Field favorite: “Brad showered quickly, sensing a rare opportunity to have sex with his wife.” Perrotta says, “I’ve yet to be at a screening where this line doesn’t get a laugh, but in the novel it’s a straightforward narrative line: (After) Sarah goads Brad into saying, ‘She’s a knockout, Sarah, but beauty’s overrated,’ the narrative voice kicks in to say, ‘He had meant this to be comforting, but at 3 o’clock in the morning, it had precisely the opposite effect.’ “

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