REVIEW: Character-driven film The Little Things invites viewers to play detective

Angelica Cervantes, Staff Writer

HBO Max’s recent film The Little Things is a new paradigm of mystery that sets foot into uncharted territory through two unique perspectives. 

Joe Deacon (Denzel Washington) is a veteran detective who helps guide Detective Jimmy Baxter (Rami Malek) in an array of recent murders. Their main suspect seems to be a strange and unyielding man named Albert Sparma (Jared Leto), who hangs onto the fringes of society with his estranged demeanor.  Though he has questionable merits, it is uncertain whether he truly is responsible for the murders. 

This film delves into both detectives’ perspectives on the strenuous labor of murder investigation through their character development and steady dialogue. Though Baxter is pretentious and Deacon is humbler, they represent two sides of the same coin and share more in common with each other than just their great knowledge in the investigation.

Unlike most murder mysteries, The Little Things does not get lost in the details but provides a storyline that is easy to chew on. 

Both Washington and Malek deliver stunning performances as they unravel the chaos that figures of authority experience. At times, even good people can become corrupted in a moment of weakness. 

In today’s society, some people question their own authority and wonder if some cops are corrupt or deal with situations in an honorable way. Though the film does not delve too deep into that subject, it is still an important idea that is brought up. 

This film’s story focuses more on the detective characters rather than the case at hand which allows us to view the murders from a more intimate perspective. Some themes touched upon include how human nature repeats itself and ignorance being bliss. 

One continuous quote that Joe Deacon’s character repeats and helps wrap the story together is, “It’s the little things that are important … it’s the little things that get you caught.” Though it seems like a straightforward statement, it is multifaceted with meanings that are revealed throughout the film.

There seems to be a twist of events at every turn keeping viewers at the edge of their seat. 

To some surprise, the film’s score is a compilation of piano music that creates a sharp contrast with the dark scenes. 

The film’s mise-en-scène felt quite like the 90s and can be comparable to murder mysteries of that decade. 

Though the film has a questionable ending, it leaves the viewers thinking about how we would handle certain situations if we were detectives. The Little Things truly delivers in expanding a story through the trifles and small details of day-to-day life. 

Stream the film on HBO Max.

Angelica Cervantes is a recent transfer to CSUSM and is now a staff writer for The Cougar Chronicle. She enjoys writing her own stories as well as watching various types of films. She aspires to become a screenwriter and to have an influence in cinema.

The Cougar Chronicle The independent student news site of California