The Ballad Of Little Jo

Inspired by a true story, this 1993 feature by Maggie Greenwald is about a woman from the east (Suzy Amis) who’s rejected by her family after giving birth to an illegitimate child and who travels in 1866 to a frontier town disguised as a man to protect herself; she keeps up the impersonation for the remainder of her life, revealing her true sexual identity only to a Chinese servant (David Chung) she takes as a lover. Apart from an impressive performance by Amis and some very capable ones from the secondary cast (which includes Rene Auberjonois, Bo Hopkins, Ian McKellen, Carrie Snodgress, and Heather Graham), this is more skillful than inspired, with an image of the early west that seems largely borrowed from McCabe and Mrs. Miller. (JR)

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