Little Children never reconciles its two main plot strands, no matter how much you’re rooting for it to do just that. The movie takes place in leafy, tot-strewn suburbia, where an affair between a frustrated young mother (Kate Winslet) and an aimless stay-at-home dad (Patrick Wilson) is set against the return of a convicted sex offender, who has come back upon his release from prison to live with his aging mother in his childhood home. Aside from the obvious conceit suggested by the title – that it is the adults who are acting like impulsive kids – the movie never establishes a theme that works for both stories. Novelist Tom Perotta adapted his book with director Todd Field, and perhaps part of the problem is that they seem to have opposing sensibilities. Field’s In the Bedroom was a devastating domestic tragedy, but Perotta – author of Election – is a light-on-his-feet satirist. As a result, there is some sharp observational comedy here and some painful, truthful drama, but they never quite coalesce.