Little Women (1994)
It is Christmas eve, and while I want to wish all my readers a very Merry Christmas, I thought I would also review one of the films that could make Christmas all the merrier. In 1993, Gillian Armstrong (“Oscar and Lucinda” (1997)) directed just yet another, as everyone then thought, adaptation of the famous novel by Louisa May Alcott “Little Women”. Based on the true-to-the novel script by Robin Swicord (“Wakefield” (2016)), the film stars such great names as Susan Sarandon, Winona Ryder, Gabriel Byrne, Kirsten Dunst and Christian Bale. The story is about four girls of the March family and their modest, but interesting lives in times of the Civil War in the US. A very much Christmas movie, Armstrong’s “Little Women” perfectly conveys the heart-warming camaraderie of the four girls, telling of their lives’ ups and downs as they try to find their way in the world torn by hardship.
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Based on a short story by E.L. Doctorow (which, in turn, is a re-telling of the story by Nathaniel Hawthorne) and shot over just twenty days, “Wakefield” is a film about Howard Wakefield (Bryan Cranston (“Drive” (2011), “The Infiltrator” (2016)), a busy city lawyer, who is silently enduring a personal crisis. On a daily basis, he is commuting to and from NYC to meet his clients, until one evening, his schedule is disrupted by a power outage. At this point, Howard begins to reflect on himself, on his place in life, and on his surroundings. Confronting personal issues usually takes time, and he wastes no time hiding from his family in the attic of his garage next door. This location is a perfect place for a hide-out since it provides him with a perfect position for the close surveillance and monitoring of his own house. Directed by a female director Robin Swicord (the screenwriter behind such great films as “Little Women” (1994) and “Memoirs of Geisha” (2005)), “Wakefield” is deeper and more interesting than first meets the eye. Combining an in-depth psychological character study with an interesting narrative structure, the film manages to deliver both a satisfying and a peculiar cinematic experience, largely driven by Bryan Cranston and Jennifer Garner’s committed performances.
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