19th Century Classic Revisited as Present-Day Coming-of-Age Tale
Published by Louisa May Alcott in 1868, “Little Women” chronicled the coming of age of Meg (Melanie Stone), Jo (Sarah Davenport), Beth (Allie Jennings) and Amy March (Taylor Murphy), siblings being raised by their mom (Lea Thompson) in Concord, Massachusetts while their absentee father (Bart Johnson) served as a pastor during the Civil War. The semi-autobiographical novel’s main characters were ostensibly based on the author and her three sisters.
The iconoclastic opus challenged the status quo by exploring such themes as love, independence and equal rights from a female perspective, challenging the conventional thinking about domesticity and other traditional women’s roles. The seminal work’s title was inspired by its teenage heroines’ loss of innocence on the road to adulthood.
Over the years, “Little Women” has been brought to the big screen a half-dozen times, most notably the productions featuring Katherine Hepburn (1933), Elizabeth Taylor (1949) and Susan Sarandon (1994). And Greta Gerwig (Lady Bird) has already signed to direct another adaptation co-starring Emma Watson, Saoirse Ronan and Meryl Streep slated to be released in December of 2019.
This year’s version, with a relatively-underwhelming cast, marks the directorial debut of Clare Niederpruem. What does make the movie unique, however, is that it is set in present-day New York. Unfortunately, the film fails to explore current feminist issues, and the result is an unengaging story which feels terribly dated instead of groundbreaking.
A disappointing 21st Century update that’s behind instead of ahead of the times.
Fair (1.5 stars)
Rated PG-13 for mature themes and teen drinking
Running time: 112 minutes
Production Studio: Main Dog Productions / Paulist Productions / Escapology
Studio: Pinnacle Peak Pictures / Pure Flix Entertainment
OPENING THIS WEEK
Weekly Previews That Make Choosing a Film Fun
For movies opening October 5, 2018
The Hate U Give (PG-13 for violence, profanity, drug use and mature themes) Adaptation of Angie Thomas’ best seller about a black prep school student (Amandla Stenberg) whose life is shattered when she witnesses the shooting of her best friend (Algee Smith) by a white cop. Ensemble cast includes Common, Anthony Mackie, Issa Rae, Regina Hall and Russell Hornsby.
A Star Is Born (R for sexuality, nudity, substance abuse and pervasive profanity) Third remake of the 1937 classic revolves around an established country singer (Bradley Cooper) who discovers and falls in love with an aspiring artist (Lady Gaga). With Dave Chappelle, Sam Elliott and Andrew Dice Clay.
Venom (PG-13 for profanity, action and intense violence) Tom Hardy plays the title character in this Marvel Comics origins tale about an investigative journalist who develops a frightening alter-ego after coming into contact with an alien. Cast includes Michelle Williams, Woody Harrelson and Jenny Slate.
INDEPENDENT & FOREIGN FILMS
The Happy Prince (R for profanity, sexuality, graphic nudity and brief drug use) Rupert Everett wrote, directed and stars in this poignant biopic revisiting the last days in the life of Oscar Wilde which the literary genius spent exiled in France and Italy. With Emily Watson, Colin Firth and Tom Wilkinson. (In English, Italian and French with subtitles.)
Heavy Trip (Unrated) Road comedy about an unknown garage band that travels from Finland to Norway to perform at a popular heavy metal festival. Co-starring Johannes Holopainen, Ville Hilska, Antti Heikinnen and Samuli Jaskio. (In Finnish, English and Norwegian with subtitles.)
Loving Pablo (R for profanity, sexuality, drug use and graphic violence) Javier Bardem portrays Pablo Escobar in this romance drama chronicling the Colombian crime boss’ four-year affair with a TV reporter (Penelope Cruz). With Peter Saragaard, Julieth Restrepo and Oscar Jaenada. (In English and Spanish with subtitles.)
Matangi/Maya/M.I.A. (Unrated) Reverential rapumentary chronicling 22 years in the life of iconoclastic, Sri Lankan singer/songwriter/producer/hip-hop artist M.I.A.
Over the Limit (Unrated) Olympic dreams documentary, set in 2015, revolving around rhythmic gymnast Margarita Mamun’s training to make the Russian National Team. (In Russian with subtitles.)
Shine (R for profanity) Inner city saga, set in Spanish Harlem, about the tensions which arise between long-estranged siblings (Jorge Burgos and Gilbert Saldivar) when one returns to the ‘hood’ as a realtor with gentrification in mind. With Kimberli Flores, David Zayas and Alysia Reiner.
Studio 54 (Unrated) Revealing retrospective offering a behind-the-scenes look inside the exclusive nightclub which came to symbolize the hedonism of the Seventies. Featuring archival footage and interviews with co-founders Ian Schrager and Steve Rubell.