Little Women is renowned feminist literature classic that has seen various film incarnations over the years. But it is the 1994 Gillian Armstrong version that holds, in my opinion, the strongest performances. At the center of the famous group of sisters lies Jo March, played by Winona Ryder. Winona Ryder had quite big shoes to fill as this legendary character. Jo was a stand-in for the novel’s author Louisa May Alcott and was previously played by the infamous Katherine Hepburn. But Ryder handles this iconic character with the grace, maturity, and infectious exuberance that she delivers in all her roles. At 23 years old, Winona Ryder manages to convey Jo’s tempestuous transition from a young girl into an adult woman. She fills Jo with the blazing confidence, bright spirit, and incessant curiosity that leads her along the uncharted trail of a female writer trying to make it in a male-dominated field and society. Ryder manages to capture both Jo’s energetic tomboy antics and her quiet, reflective observance. We find this in her scenes of awkward fumbling with the dashing young Christian Bale and the gripping emotional death of her dear sister. Jo March is an iconic character that all girls can aspire to. I feel there is no better actress than Winona Ryder to embody that role for she is an icon of womanhood. We have seen her grow in roles as a sullen teenager enamoured with the paranormal, a girl trying to practice Catholicism in the midst of her sexual awakening, a bewitching seducer, a psychologically conflicted writer, and her latest tour de force, the grieving mother of Stranger Things. Throughout her career, Winona Ryder has managed to capture a kaleidoscope of female experiences. There are plenty of reasons to love Winona Ryder’s amazing gifts as a performer, and her role as Jo March in Little Women is just one of them.
By Caroline Madden
Caroline hails from the home state of her hero Bruce Springsteen. Some of her favorite films are Amadeus, King Kong, When Harry Met Sally, Raging Bull, The Godfather, Jaws, and An American Werewolf in London. Her absolute favorite will always be The Lord of the Rings trilogy. 70s/80s era Al Pacino and Robert De Niro are her faves. She blogs even more about her film obsession at cinematicvisions.wordpress.com.
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