Director: Nicolas Gessner
Starring: Jodie Foster, Martin Sheen, Alexis Smith, Mort Shuman, Scott Jacoby
Ask her no questions, she’ll tell you no lies. Ask her too many and somebody dies.
Rynn is a 13-year-old girl who is supposed to live with her father in a big house near a small town. No one has seen Rynn’s father and whenever someone asks about him, she always tell them that he is on a business trip or working and do not want to be disturbed. Rynn is also more mature than most 13 year olds, handling the economy of the house and basically just managing her life on her own. The only companion and friend she got is a young boy, who are a couple of years older than her, named Mario. Mario helped her out one day and they have taken a liking to each other ever since.
The landlord of the house is an obnoxious lady who are not happy that Rynn is alone in the house so often. She fears that her son Frank will get obsessed with her since he has a lust for very young girls. Frank has already got a look at young Rynn however and is plotting on how he can take control over the innocent girl…
A story and character driven movie like this surrounding a young girl will either succeed or fail depending on the performance by the young girl. Luckily for this movie, Jodie Foster is absolutely fantastic here as Rynn. She is most likely the best child actor in the history of cinema, the performances she gave in the mid 70’s with this one and Taxi Driver are simply phenomenal. Even though we can easily see how mature and intelligent Rynn is, we also see her childish ways, especially around Mario. She is a very interesting character and regardless of what she does to protect herself, you will cheer and care for her.
The other cast members also does a great job here. Martin Sheen is excellent as creepy Frank, every time he shows up the atmosphere gets unsettling. Alexis Smith is great as his mother Mrs. Hallet and Mort Shuman does a good job as Mario. They should all be very happy and proud of their work with this film.
The movie also raises some interesting thoughts that are just as current today as it was in the 70’s on how much responsibility can a child have and is it only the age that matters or also the personality and how far the child has come on a mature level. It also shows how a small community is willing to ignore a big problem such as Frank’s pedophilia problems if he comes from a respectable family.
Nicolas Gessner is the guy who directed this film and I’m not familiar with anything else he has done before or after this one. The hungary born filmmaker displayed great skills here, making all the actors work well off each other and also creating suspense and thrills on a film that mostly takes place in the livingroom of Rynn’s house.
The Little Girl Who Lives Down the Lane is a fantastic character study and excellent film. Even though it’s a very “small” film, it does deserve a lot more recognition than it already has. If it were not for the pedophilia aspect of it, then I’m sure this would be a contender for the Academy Awards. It surely deserves it.