Note: This article contains spoilers for the Warner Bros. film, The Little Things, starring Denzel Washington, Rami Malek and Jared Leto.
The COVID-19 pandemic has changed a number of things in our everyday lives. Instead of going to festivals and concerts, fans watch live shows from their laptops and phones. While many spectators used to pack arenas for sporting events, many have shifted to virtual fandom. The same change can be seen when examining movie releases. Months ago, moviegoers would purchase tickets, buy popcorn and pack theaters. Today, Warner Bros. and Netflix are putting their biggest theatrical releases on streaming services. Thus far, Ma Rainey's Black Bottom, Soul and One Night In Miami have received this treatment. Joining the trend, Warner Bros. opted to release The Little Things starring Denzel Washington, Jared Leto and Rami Malek on the small screen.
The Little Things premiered on HBO Max in January and received generally favorable reviews. The star-studded cast took viewers back to the early 1990s. Paired with a beeper, gun and badge, Denzel Washington plays the role of a burned-out detective looking to help a young, rising cop played by Rami Malek. Throughout the film, Malek and Washington chase down a serial killer that is believed to be connected to a number of killings in Los Angeles and Detroit.
Years earlier, Washington investigated this killer to no avail. Eventually, the pressure of the original case resulted in a divorce, a heart attack and being reassigned to a smaller department out in the boondocks. Now, he's hoping to help Malek's character avoid a similar fate. It doesn't take long for the two to set their sights on Jared Leto's character, Albert Sparma. While Washington's character, Joe Deacon, and Malek's character, Jim Baxter, believe Sparma is connected to the string of murders they're investigating, they can't tie any hard evidence to him. Ultimately, the film ends without any true resolution. Actually, maybe there was a resolution. Here are a few clues that you may have missed that may point to the killer.
The Broken Refrigerator
One of the most apparent clues tying the murders of young women to Albert Sparma appears during a trip Joe Deacon takes early in the film. While investigating the string of murders, Deacon visits a repair store and sees Sparma. Not long afterward, he visits the apartment of a young girl who he believes was murdered by this mystery serial killer. While there, the landlord said that the victim's refrigerator was broken, but fixed not long ago. The landlord could not remember if Sparma was the one who fixed the refrigerator, but Deacon suspects that it was.
The Old Car
Another clue tying the string of murders to Sparma appears in the form of an older car. During the course of the investigation, Baxter and Deacon learned that Sparma had reported his car stolen. When examining the car, the two officers learned that the vehicle was old and had amassed a large number of miles. These traits become suspicious when looking back at one of the opening scenes.
While looking at the crime scene of the most recent murder, detectives found similarities between a recent murder in Los Angeles and a murder in Detroit. This becomes even more incriminating when it is revealed that there was a break in the string of murders by this particular serial killer until a similar murder was investigated in Detroit. Shortly thereafter, the string of murders picked up again Los Angeles. Simply put, police believe the serial killer started in Los Angeles, went to Detroit and then returned to Los Angeles. If this is true, it is likely that the killer drove between Michigan and California, racking up a number of miles like the car Sparma owns.
Oh yeah, Sparma also admitted to moving to Detroit for a small period of time before landing in Los Angeles.
The Sodium Benzoate
When examining the bodies of a number of victims, the coroner consistently found sodium benzoate. Sodium benzoate is a chemical mixture that can often be found in mouthwash and toothpaste. It can also be used to develop photos. Interestingly enough, Deacon finds a room in Sparma's house that appears to be used for photography development. Sparma also has a pair of false teeth that he could need mouthwash to keep clean.
The Little Things
In a Hollywood production, nothing is done by accident. Everything is intentional. From the way a character walks to the way their name is spelled, everything is examined with a magnifying glass before it is released. Using that frame of mind, examine the title of the film. There are a number of little things that would point to Sparma as the killer. First, detectives find a newly purchased carton of milk at the most recent victim's apartment. Then, Deacon finds a carton of milk in Sparma's trash. The coroner finds that one of the victims had roast beef shortly before she was killed. Not long after learning this information, Sparma is spotted heading into a shop that has "Roast Beef" written on the window. When Deacon first goes to Sparma's workplace, he spots of spool wire. There is no coincidence that a victim is also found tied with a similar spool of wire. Most notably, there is an abundance of imagery pointing back to Christianity and Jesus Christ. The film takes place in Los Angeles, which is also referred to as the City of Angels. When Deacon goes to the repair shop, he spots a picture of Jesus. It is also no coincidence that Sparma is fairer skinned, sporting long unkempt hair and seen offering food to the less fortunate like Jesus Christ was often depicted as doing. None of these clues are red flags until they are brought together and placed next to the title. Then, they collectively become a smoking gun.
The Red Beret
If there is a loose end in the entire film, it is the red beret that Deacon mails to Baxter at the end of the movie. The film leads viewers to believe that Deacon may have found one of the victim's red berets when searching Sparma's house. To play devil's advocate, what if he didn't? Deacon was at all of the crime scenes of the first killing spree, left the LAPD before the Detroit killing and then he returned to Los Angeles during the time of the second killing spree. Not to mention, he definitely killed at least one of the people in question. Did he do it by accident or did he do it to eliminate all witnesses?
Photo Credits: Nicola Goode/2021 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.