In what details is the devil hidden: analysis of the sensational American thriller
The meaning of the film “The Little Things” for many remained misunderstood. The picture was released on the big screen in 2021 and became a sensation. What exactly was director John Lee Hancock trying to say by choosing such an ambiguous ending? We’ll figure out.
What is the movie about
The idea of the picture is not new. The plot introduces the viewer to an elderly policeman, Joe Deacon, who holds the post of deputy sheriff in Kern. He used to be one of the best detectives in the Los Angeles homicide unit, but was forced to transfer to the periphery.
Joe goes to the “City of Angels” to get the evidence needed for the trial, and unexpectedly finds himself in the maelstrom of the investigation. A maniac is operating in the city, killing girls. Young Sergeant Jimmy Baxter is on the trail of a criminal, and Deacon decides to help in the investigation.
Albert Sparma comes to the attention of the police – a suspicious type who may well be the killer. However, the accusation lacks a match on one point out of 12 required. The partners are trying to find the missing evidence, but Sparma is not so simple, and frankly plays with the police, as if enjoying their helplessness.
Who is he – a cruel maniac or just an imitator who wants to draw attention to his person? The answer to this question is to be found by Deacon and Baxter.
Actors and roles
Three Oscar-winning actors starred in the lead roles at once, who frankly “make” this film, very accurately getting used to the image of their heroes. Denzel Washington as Joe Deacon needs no introduction. The actor was born in 1954, and is considered a true veteran of Hollywood. There are more than 60 film roles in his filmography, two parts of the blockbuster “The Great Equalizer” can be distinguished from his recent works.
Joe Deacon played by Denzel Washington. Frame from the film.
Rami Malek brilliantly played the role of a major but talented police sergeant Jimmy Baxter. The actor was born in 1981, first appeared on the screen in the series “Gilmore Girls”, which was released from 2000 to 2007. Then there were “Night at the Museum”, “Twilight”. Malek received his Oscar for his role as Freddie Mercury in Bohemian Rhapsody.
Rami Malek as Police Sergeant Jim “Jimmy” Baxter. Frame from the film.
Jared Leto. In the film The Devil is in the Details, he got the role of the main suspect, Albert Sparma. The actor was born in 1971, and was remembered by many viewers for his role as the Joker in Suicide Squad. The actor began acting in 1994, and now there are 37 roles in his filmography.
Jared Leto as Albert Sparma. Frame from the film.
Meaning and idea of the film
The meaning of the film lies in its title. The origin of the expression “The devil is in the details” goes back to another phrase – “God is in the details”, which means that any business must be done carefully, the details are of tremendous importance.
The film has a hidden meaning, a lot of hints and understatement, while the director and screenwriter John Lee Hancock already in the middle of the plot “slips” a ready-made suspect to the viewer. Albert Sparma really looks like a classic maniac who plays his game with the police. However, everything is not as simple as it seems at first glance.
The meaning of the film lies in the Easter eggs that the director generously scatters throughout the plot, inviting the audience to join the investigation.
Easter egg (Easter egg, Easter Egg) is a secret, a secret that the developers of a film, game, program specifically leaves to the viewer, user, gamer.
Here, human feelings and relationships are very subtly beaten. For example, Malek’s hero is too correct. He is a typical representative of a new wave of detectives who are used to enjoying the benefits of civilization. Sergeant Baxter is buttoned up and has an analytical mind, for which he is valued in management. Joe Deacon is the prototype of a young policeman. A kind of dinosaur detective, ready to do anything to solve the case.
However, both main characters are the same. They are “married” at work, as a result of which Joe has already lost his family and no longer communicates with his adult daughters. Jimmy is married and also has two girls. The old detective recognizes himself in the young partner, and wants to protect his colleague from the mistakes made by himself. At the same time, Joe himself remains a “dark horse” and skillfully manipulates people. His life principle is no angels, which unties his hands in certain situations.
The director exposes three heroes for a detailed analysis to the viewer, offering to crack this difficult nut. But in order to do this, you need to carefully watch the film, focusing on the little things. “The devil is in the details.” This is not just a title, but the main idea and concept of the film.
Frame from the film.
Why Deacon is covering for Jimmy
There is a simple explanation for such an extraordinary act of a senior colleague. This investigation for Joe is a chance to remember his youth. However, it is in the detective’s past that the demons that ruined his life lurk. During the investigation, he kills one of the surviving girls, and this haunts him. All three victims are now constantly with him. They look at him with mute reproach, hinting that he did not finish his work, and the killer remained at large.
However, Joe himself committed a crime by shooting a man. His mistake was covered up by his partner and the pathologist, who wrote in the conclusion that the girl died as a result of a stab wound. This helped Deacon maintain his freedom, but permanently acquire personal ghosts.
Sergeant Baxter is making a similar mistake. He fell for Sparma’s trick and went with the suspect to the prairie, hoping to find the body of one of the victims. Sparma plays. He constantly points out different places of burial of the victim, forcing the detective to dig new holes in the rocky ground.
At the same time, Albert reports that he did not kill anyone, so he offers the detective two options to choose from: return to the city or continue to dig. Jimmy chooses the second option, and Sparma goads him with lengthy arguments. The alleged perpetrator makes the mistake of mentioning the policeman’s family. Jimmy breaks down and hits him with a shovel. The blow is fatal.
At the same time, the sergeant is not sure that Albert is the killer. Therefore, he is tormented by doubts: whether he killed an innocent. These doubts help to debunk Deacon, who knows from personal experience that doubts are followed by depression, and then a breakdown with unpredictable consequences.
Frame from the film.
What was in the envelope
There is no special secret meaning here. After killing Sparma, Jimmy stays to hide the body, while Joe goes to get rid of the evidence. He arrives at the suspect’s apartment and takes out all the things from there, as if simulating a sudden flight. Previously, the partners were sure that Albert’s house had the missing details for arraignment. The same 12th point. However, they did not have time to qualitatively search the maniac’s dwelling.
The parents of one of the unidentified girls told Baxter that their daughter was always running around with a red bobby pin in her hair. This is 100% evidence that only the killer can know about.
The envelope that Joe gives to his partner contains a red hairpin and a note No Angels – no angels. Previously, an elderly policeman advised the sergeant never to think about Sparma, otherwise he would rise from the dead, and Jimmy himself would be in the grave. Sending a hairpin to a colleague, he saves him from mental anguish, confirming that he did the right thing.
So who is the killer? The meaning of the ending
In fact, the explanation of the ending is quite simple, but in order to understand it, you need to pay attention to the details. It is they who reveal the meaning and remove any understatement.
It is enough to pay attention to a few points. Three victims that haunt the Deacon. Notice how they were found. Joe himself said that it was like a tea party. At the same time, he divorced his wife and missed his daughters. It was he who had a picnic in the woods. One of the girls remained alive and, coming out of the forest, she recognized her kidnapper. That’s why Deacon shot her in the chest, removing the witness.
He is constantly pursued by these three girls – his first victims. That is why he always covered the heads of subsequent victims with garbage bags so that he would no longer see their eyes. The expert mentions that the bites on the bodies of the victims contain substances contained in toothpaste, and Deacon does not part with chewing gum.
He figured out the place from where he could be observed (the murdered girl in the apartment from which the investigation begins). Then he brings the investigation to the voyeur, whom he provokes to commit suicide, recalling the old sin.
The cherry on the cake is a red hairpin. Only the killer could see her. In the shots where another victim breaks up with his friend after a run, the hairpin is very clearly visible: varnished and wide.
This is the hair clip Joe sends to Baxter. This clearly indicates that he saw this hairpin, and automatically bought the same one in the store. The old detective repeatedly repeats that criminals are caught on trifles, and it was on such a detail that he himself pierced. However, it will only be possible to expose him if the girl’s body is found, but, apparently, this will not happen.