Little Women

Little Women

Why can’t we stay as we are?

It probably goes without saying that I have expectations going into a good amount of the films I watch for this blog, but Little Women was different; this is one of America’s classic novels, adapted into stage productions numerous times for its wholesome value and simplicity in lower budgets, and indeed I had a role in one such production in high school, so I’ve got a much more personal set of expectations for this much-lauded film adaptation. That said, this is a George Cukor film, and for whatever reason I’ve never really taken to a George Cukor film; the only exceptions being so due to aspects outside Cukor’s direction. I was thus fairly on-the-fence about actually diving into this film, and I ended up watching it in two parts over several days, mostly because I once again didn’t take to this Cukor film nearly as well as I thought I should’ve.

The film follows and details the lives of the March sisters; Jo, Amy, Beth, and Meg, as well as their mother, affectionally called Marmee, as they try and make do in their lives and find love in Civil-War-era Northern U.S. as they wait for their father to come home from the war. It does seem like a rather succinct plot summary for such a film, and it basically is; this is another example of a film that has a lot of narrative but very little story, as I’ve put it in past reviews. The narrative meanders through time as the girls grow into womanhood, having various things happen that they must respond to with positivity and maturity, and that’s about all that the film has in terms of plot. It doesn’t sound all that interesting, and in reality, it’s not really, which is how things tend to go for me when I’m watching a George Cukor film, so this wasn’t as big of a letdown as it could’ve been. Still, there are things that work; the acting from everyone is very well done, and the production value was well-utilized, being a period piece and all. Katharine Hepburn may have been a little miscast as a young female barely on the cusp of womanhood, but damn if she doesn’t make a hell of a go in the character regardless; Hepburn’s energy level seemed always cranked up to maximum, and the film itself knew that it needed to revolve mostly around her to keep the audience from losing interest.

Gosh, am I plumb out of things to say. Little Women is another example of a film that tries to be a lot of things, and just comes across as trying a little too hard. I knew I was supposed to feel a number of things during my viewing of this film, but I ended up feeling none of them, pretty much because I felt like I was being told by the film to feel them at certain points instead of having those feelings naturally arise from what was unfolding on the screen. I don’t know if I’d go so far as to say that it was manipulative and little more, but it certainly felt that way. Maybe that’s why I generally don’t take to Cukor’s films; most of the time, they’re exactly that. Well, I can’t say that this won’t be worth your time, because this could be exactly someone else’s sort of thing, but it wasn’t really mine, and it was thanks to my personal history with the source material that I knew it wasn’t the fault of Alcott, but with Cukor and how he makes his films. I guess it all evens out in the end, though; I can see how this got nominated for the big one, but I don’t really see any desire for me to ever see it again.

Arbitrary Rating: 7/10

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2 thoughts on “Little Women

  1. I think you’re nicer to this than I was. I consider myself a fan of Kate Hepburns many charms, but she fails for me entirely in this. She’s cranked up to 11 constantly, and a little of that goes a very long way. The sets and costumes are great, but the melodrama is thick enough to be cut with a knife and spread on toast.

    • I probably was a little nicer to this than I should’ve been, and it’s probably because of all the “forgettable” fare that has been left behind in the wake of the true classics that have been nominated for this award, of which this falls squarely into; it’s hard not to get a little jaded. For what it’s worth, I was on the fence about whether or not I actually liked what Hepburn was doing with the character, but she gave it her all in a role where she really didn’t have to, so I focused on that instead; frankly, that I was able to get through a film of hers without focusing the entire time on her accent was enough of a win for me.

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