Over the Story Board Shuffle Limit: Little Women

I’m standing by my original review below, but do like the story of Little Women more now that I’ve learned some context. I didn’t grow up with reading this story and now understand the narrative is part of many family’s (especially New Englanders) tradition. Having said that though, the film lover in me still had problems.

Dear Greta,

I’m sorry I didn’t love “Little Women”, I wanted to, trust me.

I’ll be positive first: Saoirse Ronan and Timothee Chalamet should be in every movie you ever do. When they are on screen, I’m in hook, line and sinker.

Beyond them, though, your film was too bloated and yes, by that I mean probably the original was, too. Leave Chris Cooper (an acting God), Meryl as well, but ix nay all the others. And come on, you’ve been an innovator before and The Favourite should have given you courage that old stories can be modernized. The cloying speech of the 1800’s just sounds silly coming out of Laura Dern’s mouth.

The flashbacks were way too numerous and you needn’t bother showing us someone almost dying if you’ve already showed us later times when the character survived. I also don’t need to see schmaltzy dance and play scenes that are self-congratulatory in a look how cute we all are.

The biggest sin was a pivotal scene near the end between Saoirse and Timothee, when the camera could not sit still on Timothee. What’s up with that? The bouncing stole some of the crucial and worthy emotion Mr. Chalamet does so well.

And everyone loooved the ending. Oh really? So we want women to sell out and marry which is exactly what Jo was against?

I enjoyed and appreciated Jo’s argument of needing to be loved more than feeling love, but I guess as soon as her intellectual equal came back to town, she found her heart. Ironically, I cancelled a second date due to being easily spooked combined with men in their enthusiasm who overly complicate or use high pressure sales.

Oh how I yearn for the oxymoron, a complex man who doesn’t need to say too much. The cherry on top of a frustrating film and my disappointing date dissolution (I was as disappointed in myself as I was at him) was the phone ringing and for me to find one of the men for whom I have the utmost regard (unfortunately he’s married and states away). Even with those obstacles, my fun conversation with him made my afternoon. I almost felt like Saoirse when Louis Garrel knocks on the door.

On Chesil Beach: I’m a runner not a skater, likewise McEwan should stick to novelist

On Chesil Beach (screenplay written by the novelist Ian McEwan, directed by Dominic Cooke) was intriguing and worth seeing. Just realize you’ll spend the first third of the movie motioning the log roll “and then” speed it up signal, and then be equally flabbergasted when you flash forward from a Loooooooong 1962 to a semi quick 1975 to a super sped up 2007.

My movie companion brought up a fair point about Britain’s cinematic fascination over ‘the old day’s’ rather than tackling current issues. Perhaps its fitting with the surfacey insistence that perfect (or in the cinema sense ‘halcyon’ days) royalty must somehow reflect a perfect society, a sweep under the rug of violent crime and racism happening in the ‘real’ England.

Back to the film: cinematography; great. Chesil Beach’s pebbles is/are a perfect backdrop for a marriage ‘on the rocks’. And to be fair, turning a novel into a screenplay is no small feat. McEwan attempts to layer the sedementary rock of their courtship, their separate but equally dysfunctional pasts.

Acting by the leads; Saoirse Ronan, though ubiquitous in recent films, was solid as ever as the repressed English musician. Billy Howie, who I had never seen before (didn’t see Dunkirk), was not an attractive man, but he did grow on me (almost literally considering the decades covered) as the movie wore on. Props to the make up artist who helped him age realistically and convincingly. Emily Watson and Samuel West were impressive in making their small, but abusive parental roles very memorable.

In a nutshell (part pun there as Ian McEwan’s most recent famous novel (new in paperback) is called Nutshell), this is the story of probably 75% of young marriages. Here are two people who don’t know themselves yet and are equally crippled due to family hardships or abuse and thus, two broken kids can not equal a whole or healthy beginning. This is exactly what happened in my first marriage (which I was too immature to just hang in there and wait), and my second marriage which age unfortunately had not advanced to wisdom.

My film companion chalked the film’s message up to “Pride Goeth before a Fall” blaming the male. I see a woman who clearly wasn’t ready for marriage, but was towing the ‘company line of the 1960’s’. The reality is, we all make early mistakes which we inevitably second guess as we age. Yet the most important epiphany to hold on to is that we’re given each new day to make the most of, and we damn well better do that.

Even the Grinch’s Heart Grew after Seeing “Brooklyn”

Brooklyn

Just like Cindy Lou helped grow the Grinch’s heart, “Brooklyn” made mine swell. Trust me, I’d seen the trailer and rolled my eyes, but am lucky the Cindy Lou kernel still inside me provoked a viewing.

First, even Truffaut would be enamored by the vibrant colors in this film. From Saoirse Ronan’s emerald one piece swimsuit to her daffodil cardigan, the movie’s 50’s fashions were stunning. And that’s not even addressing the beaches of Ireland!

Second, the acting was tremendous. Saoirse Ronan plays the female lead with a combination of understatement and poignancy. Emory Cohen, reminiscent of a younger mix of Brad Pitt and Sam Rockwell, was ultra-realistic as that overly faithful guy from high school that you almost wish you had married. Domhnall Gleeson plays a Ron Howardish irresistible challenger for Saorsie’s affection.

The minor roles were also spot on. Every actor/actress from the boardinghouse owner to Tony’s wise ass little brother, to Saoirse’s maudlin mother were like beautiful frosting on an already perfect cake.

Not to mention, how often do movie’s come out where you can take your teenager and your grandmother? Besides a few Irish f-bombs which really sound more like ‘feck’ so is it really swearing ?(wink wink), the movie only hints at a sexual encounter.

Though “High Fidelity” may always be my favorite, Nick Hornby strikes again with another great screenplay.