Lisa Schwarzbaum
September 10, 1999 AT 04:00 AM EDT

All the Little Animals

type
Movie
Current Status
In Season
mpaa
R
performer
Christian Bale, John Hurt
genre
Drama

We gave it a B-

Christian Bale plays Bobby, a dented young loner in London who, after his mother’s death, runs away from his wealthy, sinister stepfather (Daniel Benzali, resembling a malevolent Daddy Warbucks) and finds companionship with Mr. Summers (crusty and unshaven John Hurt), a dented old loner in the West Country. The pleasurably weird novel by Walker Hamilton — which veers into Stephen King territory when Bobby is forced to dig his own grave — has been brought to the screen by director Jeremy Thomas with tender, sensuous attention to the tangled green landscape and the small creatures of the title, whom Mr. Summers cherishes almost above human life. Where All the Little Animals falters is in sustaining the tricky balance between pastoral life lessons and creepy suspense.

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