Chic-Flick Trailers

Friday, January 23, 2009

THE SISTERHOOD FLICK: Gillian Armstrong's 1994 LITTLE WOMEN! Ah, the good ol' days

Before Christian Bale was Batman, before Winona Ryder was a thief and before anyone knew who Claire Danes was, there was Little Women. I can't imagine another audience for this movie other than the classic chic-flickers. This is an old-fashioned take on a popular sub-genre of chic-flicks about women's relationships with other women and how it affects their lives. Other sisterhood movies are The Joy Luck Club, How to Make an American Quilt, The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants Series and The Jane Austen Book Club. A movie that people and critics usually remember from this sub-genre is The Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood. This is a movie that gives chic-flicks a bad name, not so much because of the movie itself, but because people(usually men-people) love to hate it and make fun of women's movies just because of it. But don't be afraid, just because women stick together and have healthy relationships with each other does not mean the fall of mankind is upon us.

Little Women also branches out of this sub-genre and is usually given some extra credit because it's based on Louise May Alcott's acclaimed novel. It is definitely one of my favourite movies of all time and something I would recommend to any movie lover. This is when I first fell in love with Christian Bale as the slightly naive but priveledged Laurie, friend to the March sisters. It was also Winona Ryder's second Oscar nod for leading actress for her portrayal of the hopelessly independent and wise-beyond-her-time, Jo March. Claire Danes appears in one of her first movie appearences, as the sensitive and tragic sister, Beth, while Kirsten Dunst, at the age of 12, plays the mischievious and fiery Amy.
A great treat is Susan Sarandon as Marmy, one of the best onscreen moms I've ever seen. Sarandon is as good in this as she is in everything else. And if you've been watching Grey's Anatomy this season, you might recognize Mr. Brooke (Eric Stoltz) as the serial killer on death row and Older Amy (Samantha Mathis), as the mother of a child with liver failure.

Ebert gets it right this time in his review, saying it "grew on me" and letting his audience know that:

Little Women may be marketed for children and teenagers, but my hunch is it will be best appreciated by their parents. It's a film about how all of life seems to stretch ahead of us when we're young, and how, through a series of choices, we narrow our destiny.

What I love about the plot now is funnily enough what I hated when I first saw it. For those who aren't familiar with the book, you believe that Bale's character is set up as a love interest for Ryder's Jo, but not so fast. What I love about it so much now is that her character isn't compromised for a typical love plot. For the girl who dreams of going to Europe, performing theatre onstage and writing melodramas to suddenly sacrifice it all for the suitable marriage we, the audience, know she has no taste for, would just be a crime against fiction. It's also really nice to see a genuinely platonic female/male relationship onscreen.

Unlike the critiques of some sisterhood films, it's not even close to an obnoxious girl-power movie. It develops its male characters with as much deep thought and devotion as it treats its female ones. They are good-natured, trustworthy, real gentlemen and thats not only due to the period. Some say men were made different back then but again I say nay! The same can be said about women and how they demanded to be treated differently. The sisters' bond is not contrived in the dialogue or the chemistry between the actresses. It does everything a good, homemade family drama should; makes you laugh a little, cry a lot, and warms our cold, battered, post-modern hearts.

Favourite Quotes: "Feminine weaknesses and fainting spells are the direct result of our confining young girls to the house, bent over their needlework, and restrictive corsets." - Marmee, "Over the mysteries of female life there is drawn a veil best left undisturbed. " - Mr.Brooke
, "I find it poor logic to say that women should vote because they are good. Men do not vote because they are good; they vote because they are male, and women should vote, not because we are angels and men are animals, but because we are human beings and citizens of this country." - Jo.
Chemistry level: 5/5 for all. Well done all.
Best Love Story: Anyone of Laurie's, I think. Of course I may be biased.
Best Tearjerker Moment: Poor Beth's moments of compassion and simple sadness and confusion over the changes happening in her family: "Why does everyone want to go away? I love being home. But I don't like being left behind."
Best Performance: It's definitely a hard choice because the cast is stellar, so I would have to choose the ensemble. I think what's really special about it is not so much the individual performances but them all collectively.
Best Surprise: Watch out for Gabriel Byrne as the german professor who might just make Jo think marriage and children aen't such a bad idea and a sweet, little resolution for Laurie's broken heart.
Mean Girl Moment: For all its good-natured, sisterly behaviour it does have a few aspects of bitchy realism in Dunst's Younger Amy and the wealthy Belle Gardiner (Corrie Clark).
Girly Stuff: Just for us girls, they throw in a little opera, a ball or two, and period dresses to absolutely die for.

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