Adam Nelson’s Little Pieces rotates around the lives and struggles of two men. Eric and Michael’s stories are told separately and through an intriguing non-linear narrative. Little Pieces is Adam Nelson’s debut – a film-maker who displays his influence from the likes of Stanley Kubrick and Paul Thomas Anderson by integrating his surroundings into the visual story and creating a constant sense of uncertainty for his audience. It isn’t immediately clear how Michael and Eric are interlinked – if at all. As the film heads towards several unexpected climaxes, we get a clearer idea as to how their lives are connected and why they behave the way they do. The more we come to understand this relationship – the more tragic the film’s events become. Little Pieces is an ambitious first feature from a director who blatantly understands how to intelligently tell a cinematic story. There is great potential within Little Pieces, its cast and its crew. This is a film about family, betrayal, abandonment, anger and revenge. People talk with their fists and resentment bubbles under the surface of all the male characters. An ignorant security guard becomes more monstrous over time and Eric and Michael grow in fury and desperation. The film’s grit and thirst for revenge is reminiscent of Shane Meadow’s Dead Man’s Shoes. Addiction consumes and bitterness dictates the actions found in Little Pieces.
Besides its plot, Little Pieces is impressive on a technical level. Imraan Husain’s composition perfectly suits the picture – complimenting and intensifying different scenes in different ways. The score is eloquent – as is the way that the story is told. The limited quality of a first feature often means that it’s a challenge to create a strong feeling of presence. Nelson uses detailed framing and diverse sequences and in doing so achieves a cinematic sense. The artistic freedom is also clear from the improvised appearance of certain scenes. It feels as though the cast have been given room to breathe. Allowing the actors time to explore and understand their roles only adds to the spontaneity and charisma of Little Pieces. I am most impressed with how this movie makes the most of its resources. Performance, cinematography, narrative and score are all focused and intertwined making Little Pieces a charming and admirable debut. Adam Nelson has dared to tell a story in a challenging way – a risk that has paid off. All elements of the film are in-tune with one another; making Little Pieces an absorbing drama about the vulnerable and the abandoned.
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