The Little Girl Who Lives Down the Lane (1976)    2 Stars

“Ask her no questions, she’ll tell you no lies. Ask her too many and somebody dies.”

The Little Girl Who Lives Down the Lane (1976)
The Little Girl Who Lives Down the Lane (1976)


Director: Nicholas Gessner

Cast: Jodie Foster, Martin Sheen, Alexis Smith

Synopsis: 13-year-old Rynn Jacobs lives alone in a high-class Quebec small town, but unknown to the neighbors, she is leading a secret and dangerous life.






In Nicholas Gessner’s The Little Girl Who Lives Down the Lane, Jodie Foster (The Silence of the Lambs, Elysium) plays Rynn, a precocious, bright thirteen-year-old whose terminally ill father fixed it for her to live alone after his death without the knowledge of the authorities. It’s a pretty flimsy premise, to be honest, and one which, in the real world would probably work for maybe half-a-week before everything started to unravel. It is this flaw at the core of the story that prevents The Little Girl Who Lives Down the Lane from being as good as it could have been.

Rynn is aided in her deception by Mario (Scott Jacoby – The Anderson Tapes), another outsider, semi-crippled by polio who has withdrawn into a world of magic. Mario has a kindly uncle (songwriter Mort Shuman) whose concerns for Rynn keep him coming around. Unfortunately for Rynn, she’s also sparked the curiosity of her bitchy landlady (Alexis Smith) and borderline paedophile son (a creepy Martin Sheen – The Departed, The Amazing Spider-Man).

It’s Foster’s performance that keeps you watching and helps the audience to overlook some of the more ludicrous aspects of the storyline (such as Mario fooling his uncle into believing he is actually Rynn’s father). On the cusp of adulthood, the camera appears to invite admiration of her incipient sexuality (the fluffy blonde hair, blue eyes, lithe figure, the brief nude scene) while simultaneously condemning Sheen’s character for doing the same. Whether this is a genuine attempt on the part of the director to turn our focus inwards while watching, or simply a product of a more cynical motivation remains open to question.

(Reviewed 17th February 2012)

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