The Little Girl Who Lives Down the Lane
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I find myself more willing to forgive a film for not sticking to its literary roots when I've seen the film first, and such is the case with The Little Girl Who Lives Down the Lane. It's hard to believe it's been almost thirty years since I first saw this film, but it is; when I rented it last weekend on a nostalgia trip, I found that it's lost none of its brilliance over time.
Much of that has to do with the performances of the two principals, Jodie Foster (fresh off her success in Taxi Driver) and Martin Sheen (three years after Badlands, three years before Apocalypse Now). Foster plays a thirteen-year-old girl menaced by pedophile Sheen, but takes care of herself quite nicely in that regard (in fact, Foster's character here might have been the poster-child for what is known today as empowerment). There's a subplot going on about Foster's mysterious father, whom no one ever sees, and a related coming-of-age one about her falling in love with the nephew of a member of the local constabulary. All of it is handled quite nicely, and while things are rushed, they're done as well as they can be; chalk it up to Laird Koenig adapting his own novel for the screen. It's almost enough to forgive the large gaps those who have read the book will notice, and Gessner's almost amateurish handling of the passage of time (it seems almost as if Foster and the nephew, played by Diary of Anne Frank/Return to Horror High star Scott Jacoby, go from wary acquaintances to lovers overnight, since Jacoby does nothing to show the passage of weeks except add snow to the scene; he must not have ever lived in Cleveland, where snow on Halloween may be uncommon, but does happen now and then).
Highly underrated atmospheric suspense. A must-see for Jodie Foster fans. ****
Unlike a lot of the reviewers here, I'd never seen this before. But I do know a lot of people who had seen it on TV growing up and their enthusiasm made me curious.
Now I understand. Though sometimes tonally uneven, this is a captivating little puzzler that somehow combines elements of 70s afterschool specials, Roald Dahl, Poe, low-budget horror and a single-set stage play... with apparent nods to Pinter and Orton.
A young Jodie Foster (at roughly the same age as when she played Iris in "Taxi Driver") stars as a teenaged girl attempting to conceal from the world that she's an orphan living alone. Her obvious intelligence and uncanny maturity shield her nicely from most adults (she loves Emily Dickinson and Chopin and is teaching herself Hebrew) but then she's set upon by a pushy, presumptuous landlady and by the landlady's lecherous son, a turtleneck-clad mama's boy played by a stark Martin Sheen (not long after he made "Badlands").
What happens next needs to be seen with as little advance knowledge as possible. And though the dialogue and music sometimes shift into melodrama ("Don't ever leave," the 13-year-old girl tells her new boyfriend, an amateur magician), the shifts almost seem intentional, a means of making the twists that much more surprising and unsettling.
This is a strange and cool little movie, a true underseen sleeper, occasionally quite shocking and a perfect example of a film that arrived far, far ahead of its time.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Why has the DVD no bonus features like the Blue Ray version?
This is one of my favorite movies (and novel) of all times. For more than 17 years I'm checking amazon. Read more
I hate Zionist subversion, when the film starts with Jodie Foster's 13 year old character learning Hebrew? all down hill from there.Published 1 month ago by Fred
Very creepy movie. Not scary, but creepy. Martin Sheen is such a scumbag in the film! Lol. Jodie Foster once again is flawless and plays against the adults in the movie very... Read morePublished 1 month ago by DK
“The Little Girl Who Lives Down the Lane” (Kino Lobber) is set in a New England seacoast town, where thirteen-year-old Rynn Jacobs (Jodie Foster) lives alone in an old cottage at... Read morePublished 2 months ago by The Movie Man
I added this DVD to my library because I watched it many times when it first came out. I was not disappointed when watching it decades later.Published 5 months ago by Herbert Drake
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