Once regarded as a 1990s indie vanguard, Alexandre Rockwell hasn't fulfilled that promise in the ensuing two decades as have many of his peers, such as Quentin Tarantino, Robert Rodriguez and Allison Anders, with whom he codirected the 1995 omnibus "Four Rooms." With "Little Feet," Rockwell finally recaptures — at least stylistically — the spirit of his 1992 breakthrough, "In the Soup." For some reason, that black-and-white 16-millimeter aesthetic gives it an air of French New Wave whimsy.
"Little Feet" revolves around the misadventures of two youngsters (played by Rockwell's own children, Lana and Nico), unsupervised by a grief-stricken alcoholic father since the passing of their mother. After missing the school bus one morning, they trek across Los Angeles intending to free their pet goldfish Curly.
The film romanticizes the innocence of children. The older sister assumes the parental role ineptly; toasting bread with a clothes iron, cutting a sandwich in half with scissors, throwing spilled-on-the-floor pasta back into the pan, applying Wite-Out to her brother's teeth. The faux naiveté feels improbable for the Internet age, but a passing "Finding Nemo" reference and sightings of a QR code and a pair of RealD 3-D glasses place the film in present day. It's excusable for a sheltered novice filmmaker to be out of touch like this, but not for a veteran.
MPAA rating: None
Running time: 1 hour, 2 minutes.
Playing: At the Cinefamily at the Silent Movie Theatre, Los Angeles.