Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Little Women

Little Women; drama, USA, 1994; D: Gillian Armstrong, S: Winona Ryder, Christian Bale, Trini Alvarado, Claire Daines, Gabriel Byrne, Samantha Mathis, Susan Sarandon, Eric Stoltz, Kirsten Dunst

Teenage girl Jo lives with her three sisters - Meg, Beth and Amy - and mother March in a small town during the American Civil War. She wants to be a writer, and even manages to publish a few short stories. Her neighbor, Laurie, proposes her, but she rejects him. When their father returns alive from the war, the family is happy, but Jo departs to study in New York. There, an older professor, Friedrich, inspires her to publish a more personal story, which she does with "Little Women", a best-selling book. Beth dies from a disease, while Jo marries Friedrich.

The 4th movie adaptation of Louisa May Alcott's eponymous and popular 1868 novel, Gillian Armstrong's "Little Women" is a standard and kitchy melodrama, yet manages to assure a higher dimension of quality thanks almost exclusively to the sweet Winona Ryder as the rebellious heroine Jo, for which she was nominated for an Oscar as best actress in a leading role. The movie is burdened the most in the lax first half, that does not manage to engage the viewers through sweet, but conventional-grey and sometimes boring everyday events, with practically no humor (except for the colorful "burnt hair" scene), though it manages to pick up some energy in the second half thanks to events viewers can identify with, like the trails and ordeal of Jo, who wasted her talent on writing cheap short stories that were expected from her just to later write something honest, from the bottom of her heart, which mirrors the experience of Alcott's history with her own novel, subtly aiming a few jabs at the position of women in those times. A stronger vision in where the movie should go or look like was not there, yet "Little Women" has just enough positive ingredients - great landscapes, costumes, set design - to offer an overall positive experience.


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