The Collegian
Thursday, January 26, 2023

Film Fridays: "The Little Things"

<p><em>Graphic by Carissa Gurgul</em></p>

Graphic by Carissa Gurgul

Editor’s Note: The views and opinions expressed in this article do not reflect those of The Collegian.

In the weeks leading up to its release, “The Little Things” was touted as a neo-noir crime thriller featuring an academy award-winning cast that had the potential to be incredible. I could hardly contain my excitement to see the likes of Jared Leto, Rami Malek and Denzel Washington all sharing a screen.

Yet the only word that comes to mind after the credits roll is underwhelming.

Even with all of its star power behind it, as well as director John Lee Hancock, who has directed films such as “The Blind Side” and “The Founder,” the film falls short of delivering anything worthwhile. 

Now, by no means is “The Little Things” a bad film. I’ve seen much worse. There are scenes in the movie where I got goosebumps and was actually invested in what was happening. Yet when I looked back, I realized what drew me in was Jared Leto.

All three actors deliver solid performances with Malek and Washington portraying a type of yin and yang cop partnership. Malek, who portrays the young and ambitious detective Jimmy Baxter, and Washington, who plays the older, more experienced former detective Joe Deacon, have some great scenes together especially toward the conclusion of the film.

However, the standout performance, in my opinion, belongs to Leto. 

Whenever Leto, who portrays the creepy and downright sinister Albert Sparma, is on screen he delivers a superb character. His mannerisms and unsettling tone when interacting with Baxter and Deacon are what makes him so compelling to watch. It is clear from this film that Leto who, Washington said, didn’t engage in his usual method acting antics, and clearly understood the man he was portraying.

When all three were on-screen together, I couldn’t stop watching.

But before Leto’s character was introduced, the film was uninteresting. It isn’t the first neo-noir detective drama that we’ve seen, and with an influx of gritty cop shows such as “True Detective” or “Mindhunter,” it felt as if the film was trying to accomplish too much. In those shows, the audience grows with the characters and develops an understanding that the morality of criminal justice isn’t as cut and dry as we may like to think. Those shows make dark choices that the audience is left thinking about well after the credits roll.

I’m going to avoid spoilers here, but when the final credits rolled, soon after the ostensibly shocking twist, I didn’t feel moved or jarred. The “twist”, if I can even call it that, at the finale just didn’t make me ask questions I think the director was going for. I didn’t end my viewing by going over plot aspects in my head or theorizing as to what could have been. Instead, I gathered my thoughts, turned off the TV and went to sleep. 

The Little Things is a decent crime thriller that you won’t be ostracized for skipping. It has solid performances, great atmosphere, and direction, but fails in other aspects. The overall story and themes leave much to be desired and it doesn’t have the same emotional impact that similar shows or movies have capitalized on.

Enjoy what you're reading?
Signup for our newsletter

If you have the time I’d recommend checking it out, but if not you aren’t missing much.

Contact features writer Quinn Humphrey at

Support independent student media

You can make a tax-deductible donation by clicking the button below, which takes you to our secure PayPal account. The page is set up to receive contributions in whatever amount you designate. We look forward to using the money we raise to further our mission of providing honest and accurate information to students, faculty, staff, alumni and others in the general public.

Donate Now