The Ballad of Little Jo
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This is a story of a young woman trying to make it on her own as she travels west after an affair has brought her shame and banishment. The twist, of course, is that the only way she can survive and scratch an existence is by hiding herself as a man (actually, a boy). The classic beauty of Suzy Amis requires one to stretch his or her imagination quite a bit in order for this movie to work. For instance, did I, for even one second, think she looked like a man? Not on your life, buster! How about as a young lad? Well, not really. So did it work? A very surprising YES! And the credit has to go to Ms. Amis--she was wonderful in this film--as well as the director.
The movie travels at a somewhat pedestrian pace, however, it is never dull and carries a wealth of scenes that brings out a pure and simple honesty, which is rare in filmmaking. After viewing this film, I wished that they had spent a little more time showing Josephine the woman, but because of time constraints (the film was fairly long as is), most of her past was shown only in quick flashbacks. Between 1 and 10, "The Ballad of Little Jo" deserves a solid 8. This is one film I know I'll enjoy over and over again. People, do yourself a favor and rent or buy this film. I think you'll be as pleasantly surprised as I.
Suzy Amis plays Jo, a woman who is a little too trusting of some bad men. After escaping to the west and leaving her born out of wedlock son behind, she is almost raped by two soldiers. To hide from them, she wears men's clothing and scars her face, eventually using her new facade to get what she needs in the west to survive. Ian McKellen plays a woman hater who takes her in, believing she is a young man. She eventually befriends Bo Hopkins, who has his best role in years, and starts a sheep ranch. She falls in love with a Chinese man she was forced to hire as her cook, and must eventually do battle with a cattle comglomerate trying to get a foothold and driving the sheep ranchers out.
Amis resembles Eric Stoltz in her scenes as a man, and is totally believable. McKellan and Rene Auberjonois have small but pivotal roles as older father figures who Amis trusts, but eventually turn on her. Bo Hopkins is great as the neighbor Amis tolerates, befriends, and tolerates. David Chung plays the Chinese man nicknamed Tin Man as an ailing opium addicted flawed man. He looks perfect for the part, life scars and all. Heather Graham also has a small part as Amis' paramour, and does her best with it.
The most surprising aspects of this film is what the film is not. There are no cute "Yentl" scenes, where Amis falls in love with a man as a man. The cattle company war, a standard western plot point, never overwhelms the story, or comes to a trite conclusion.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Based on a true story, "The Ballad of Little Jo" offers a glimpse of how difficult it was to be a woman on her own in the wild west.Published 1 month ago by Mary Lee Starnes
This was a very good story of how one copes with the hard decisions in difficult times. Well done a dn a pleasure to watch.Published 3 months ago by Kersti Landeck
One of my favorite movies! Had to get it for my personal collection.Published 7 months ago by Amazon Customer
This is a very good movie, I thought. My boyfriend liked it. Nice western from a woman in a man's world view. Good date-night movie.Published 18 months ago by terrie mills
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