“Little Women” (1994) (900th Review)

MOVIE REVIEW: “Little Women” stars Winona Ryder (Edward Scissorhands, Stranger Things [TV series]), Trini Alvarado (The Frighteners, Stella), Claire Danes (Homeland [TV series], Romeo + Juliet), Kirsten Dunst (Spider-Man [2002], The Power of the Dog), Susan Sarandon (Thelma & Louise, Snitch), Christian Bale (The Dark Knight, Vice), Gabriel Byrne (The Usual Suspects, Miller’s Crossing), Eric Stoltz (Pulp Fiction, The Butterfly Effect), Samantha Mathis (American Psycho, Broken Arrow), John Neville (The X-Files [1998], The Fifth Element), and Mary Wickes (Sister Act, The Hunchback of Notre Dame [1996]). It is directed by Gillian Armstrong (My Brilliant Career, Charlotte Gray), with the screenplay being written by Robin Swicord (The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Memoirs of a Geisha).

Based on the novel, this story follows the March sisters as they grow up in post-Civil War times.

We’ve made it folks: 900 reviews. Man. What a milestone. Though I would’ve loved to reach the coveted 1,000 review marker before closing out the website, I am glad to have made it this far. 900 reviews over 10 years is quite a feat. And to have seen the 1994 iteration of “Little Women” as the 900th? What a way to crack open December.

For those of you who haven’t seen or read this story (like myself), “Little Women” is a coming-of-age tale that shares both joy and sadness. One that focuses on a group of four women – sisters – who transition from their childhood into adulthood. Many obstacles are faced for each sibling, but it’s in their bond and shared affection for one another that they are able to accomplish their goals. While the going may get tough, your heart can’t help but melt at the love between these women.

Under the direction of Gillian Anderson, this project is littered with many big stars, from Winona Ryder to Christian Bale to Susan Sarandon. All of whom hold great chemistry and chew the scenes they are in. For the kid cast especially, they make things fun. It’s that sort of storytelling akin to “Driving Miss Daisy” or “Fried Green Tomatoes”: a folksy tale with warm performances. Everyone does a solid job, with notable turn-ins coming from Ryder and Kirsten Dunst. All of the March sisters are well-balanced in both story weight and personality. They stand out, and I found some of the more memorable moments coming from those who weren’t Jo (Ryder). Beth (Danes) in particular has one of the saddest tales.

My girlfriend enjoys watching this picture around Christmas time, and I don’t blame her. The film opens with snow and repeats the same look throughout. There’s an enchantment to it, conveyed through production design, wardrobe, and most of all the score. It exudes a storybook style/tone as if it were adapted by a novel (wink wink), checking off all the boxes of adventure, drama, comedy, and romance. The latter of which is a centerpiece of this flick, as the sisters are constantly in the throws of boys (and later, men). Swicord, who adapted the novel from Louisa May Alcott, wrote dialogue akin to something you’d find in a Jane Austen picture. There’s quite a bit of romanticism, as to be expected when girls mature into women (… little women). As a guy, I found it all to be actually interesting. The dialogue is done well, both in how it is written and how it is performed. If there were any frustrations to arise, it typically came from the story choices made…

I know that the script is adapted (so this is more so a question of the source material), but I didn’t care for a few outcomes. Specifically, those involving Christian Bale’s Laurie. He was a fun character at the start, but became more of an annoyance as the film progressed. I didn’t like him by the third act, and only found his inclusion in scenes to be… less desirable. Which is bold to say because I love Bale as an actor. He’s the most recognizable face of this cast. I just didn’t like the make-up of Laurie all too much (and that’s not to say you can’t have annoying characters to throw conflict into the mix; that’s if anyone else shares the same opinion about him as myself). Also, the relationship between Jo and Friederich (Byrne) was a bit strange. Call me odd, but noticeable age gap relationships can bother me onscreen. Their chemistry felt more mentor-student than boyfriend-girlfriend. I’m sure people will disagree, but this is just my preference.

1994’s “Little Women” is a sweet tale despite the story choices I mentioned. Its scope and design make for a magical experience, and I love the heart-warming nature of it even though there are some saddening moments/circumstances. The story of the March sisters is one of excitement, humor, and sadness. It’s well-rounded and well-executed, and I would deem it to be a solid December film to watch. FINAL SCORE: 86%= Juicy Popcorn

Here is the trailer:

One response to ““Little Women” (1994) (900th Review)

  1. Pingback: December Movie Rankings | Juicy Reviews·

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