“Women have minds and souls as well as hearts, and I’m sick of everyone saying they’re only good for love, I’m sick of it.”
If I can find someone who looks at me the way Laurie looks at the March girls in Little Women, I will die a lucky girl. Get your Kleenex ready, Little Women is back.
Little Women is a tale told many times. It’s been adapted seven times since the 1868 novel was published, but people don’t seem to grow tired of the feel-good classic. Charming AF and soul candy are some of my favorite takeaways from the Internet to describe this movie, but while I prefer the 1994 version of this film (pls don’t hate me), this adaptation is still pretty solid.
Directed by one of my favorites, Greta Gerwig takes the coming-of-age story of four sisters in America in the aftermath of the Civil War, and makes it her own. But, somehow throughout the movie, I kept comparing it to the 1994 Winona Ryder version, and that was pretty distracting.
Don’t get me wrong…this is a perfectly good film. The attention to detail, costume design, cinematography, and acting are all top-notch, but something felt a little flat. Maybe it was the non-linear storytelling that kind of screwed with my head (if I hadn’t already read the book and seen one of the older movies, I may have been a little lost juggling the flashbacks). Or maybe it was the over-sentimentality of the entire piece? I’m not really sure.
Saoirse Ronan (who plays Jo) has undeniable versatility, and I’ll gladly see her in anything. She gave more pep and ferocity to the character of Jo March than Winona did, as did Florence Pough (who plays Amy)…yet I still preferred the actors of 1994 to those of 2019. Don’t get me wrong…Timothee Chalamet slays it as Laurie, but no one can compete with Christian Bale and that totally 90s haircut.
There were also certain scenes that I didn’t feel as impactful or gut-wrenching…Amy 2019 falling through the ice felt less terrifying and dramatic than those of versions before. Likewise, Beth 2019’s death felt rushed, predictable and bland. I didn’t care, which is a shame because Eliza Scanlen is a tremendous actress (Sharp Objects anyone?), but her role and character couldn’t show us that.
Something that is worth mentioning is that Gerwig sprinkles in little additions that, coupled with tremendous acting, really hit me hard. When Jo March said, “but I’m so lonely” … I was genuinely tearing up. Or when Laurie expresses his unyielding love for Jo, I felt that pain. (Let’s also consider an Oscar for Timothee Chalamet’s messy hair in that scene.)
Gerwig also took a stab at erasing the whiny child with no cares version of Amy, which actually worked well for me. Florence Pugh firmly establishes that Amy is capable of finding herself. She makes mistakes out of anger and loneliness, and that’s okay.
My critiques of this version may dilute my sentiment that this is a very charming remake, and it has some strong Oscar contenders in the acting category (Ronan and Pugh definitely). Don’t expect to be totally shook by this rendition, but know that you’ll have a heartfelt good time.