When we movie fans wax poetic about movies many of us long for the halcyon days of yore when films felt dangerous and directors were loose cannons. We talk about how great those movies were and how things have never been the same since. Well, ya know, maybe it’s not always such a bad thing that time marched on because maybe, just maybe some films and their directors were a little too loose.
The Little Girl Who Lives Down the Lane is the story of a young woman of thirteen – Jodie Foster – living on her own in a leased home in a small town. Unfortunately for her the town is full of people desperate to nose into her business. Like a local man rumored to have too much of an interest in little girls, or his mother, the woman that owns the leased house that treats it as if she lives there, or another local young person wanting to know why she’s trying to driving someone else’s car. What none of them know is that this little girl is hiding the truth about why she is living alone in that big house and she’ll do whatever it takes to keep it that way.
This is such a weird movie. Not a bad one, but it’s SO weird! The film starts with Martin Sheen as the town weirdy making a move Foster’s character in her own home, establishing early that this isn’t going to white glove things. Foster plays the character with more sass than a team of ten-year-olds and establishes that she’s not someone to fool with. The story itself is a sort of interesting take on a fairy tale about a little girl left alone in the big bad world, though this girl is more wolf than girl. Foster is given the green light to chew scenery in throughout the entire film and boy does she. Things get creepier when they shoe-horn an uncomfortable sex scene into the film prompting the need for a body double to stand in for the young actress to handle the nude scene. Yeesh.
This is a very dark movie and it’s admirable that it pulls no punches and is willing to take that gloom all the way through to the end. This is grim stuff and not necessarily the most believable but again, this is more of a modern fable, a Grimm’s Fairy Tale for the modern world, and as such it’s fascinating and chilling. It’s rare to see a movie that plays this fast and loose with the fate of a young person, especially when they are the lead, but if nothing else, this movie goes all the way on what it promises – this is a mean little story about a mean little girl and while I can’t say I enjoyed the film, I can’t say I hated it.
It’s not like anything else out there, and there’s something to be said for that.
3 out of 5
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