*Warning: If you have not read Louisa May Alcott’s timeless classic, Little Women, (or seen any film adaptations of the novel) beware. There are spoilers below.*
On Christmas night, I went to the movies with a girlfriend to see the long awaited Little Women. I still remember the day my friend Rachel and I were eating empanadas at a cafe and she casually mentioned that Greta Gerwig was working on a new adaptation of Little Women. I about lost my mind with excitement. While the 1994 version with its own star studded cast (Winona Ryder, Claire Danes, Susan Sarandon, Kirsten Dunst, and more) will always hold a very special place in my heart – Gerwig definitely worked some magic with this film.
I’ll tell you off the bat, it was waterworks for me almost the entire viewing. (I peeked, and noticed similar reactions in the audience around me.) The tears weren’t even in a sad way, but more like “this is so beautiful, I’m overwhelmed.” Plus – when you come to love literary characters, there’s something special about them being brought to life on screen. It was like reuniting with the March family.
Timothy Chalamet is so darn charming that it makes it next to impossible to be annoyed with him. Even when he’s lazily gallivanting around Paris wasting his family’s money, wallowing in some self pity. And I’m convinced that I’ll have the urge to visit any setting of the films he stars in. (For instance: Call Me By Your Name gave me the sudden desire to go traipse around the vineyards of Italy. Here, I was even more drawn to the sprawling landscape of France than usual, or even the streams and fields of Massachusetts.)
I’m guessing a lot of girls identified with Jo March when they were reading Little Women growing up. She has an undeniable passion for words, writing, reading, taking in everything around her. She has a flair for the dramatics. She isn’t mainstream in the least. Watching Saoirse Ronan nail this character’s essence so perfectly on screen, I felt l came face to face with other similarities we had in common. (For better or worse.) She’s stubborn, and argumentative, and her intensity is scorching. Her ache to to see so much of the world, the impatience to fulfill her dreams now, the urge to swim against the current in all things conventional in society – those traits glowed like a spotlight was cast upon them. A light bulb went off for me, and I thought oh…perhaps this why I have always been obsessed with Jo March.
I think for once though, finally, I was able to understand the youngest March sibling a little more. Florence Pugh plays Amy, and oh she plays her spectacularly well. I always thought Amy was rather petulant. (Okay, if my sibling threw my manuscript in a burning fireplace – I’d have lost my mind.) And I was the older sibling myself, so I am sure there are younger sibling things I don’t understand. (Understatement.) But the spin on Amy’s character in Gerwig’s Little Women is rather refreshing. Sure she still does some insufferable things in her childhood. But I understood that her own stubborn will to fulfill her dreams was such a driving force in her behavior as well.
And I’ll admit – I was probably always going to be a little bit salty about the fact that Laurie ends up with Amy, and not Jo. I know the dialogue to the proposal scene in the 1994 version, by heart. (I have loved you from the moment I clapped eyes on you – what could be more logical than to marry you?) Oh my heart. Ouch. But – I am also the champion of unrequited love, the person who always had the ridiculous wherewithal to pine after the same person for ages, going on a simple lingering hope. Longing be damned. So, in Gerwig’s version, I felt like I could finally see that while Laurie may have always had eyes for Jo – Amy was waiting in the wings. She knew her moment would come. (And when it did, of course she announced she wouldn’t t be a sorry second choice.) He could court her, and show the truth of his desires on his own.
Jo and Beth’s special relationship, though they were so different from each other was another favorite part of the film. The day the whole gang spent on the beach were some of the most beautiful scenes. Meg has her own scenes of sparkle. (From being the “pet” to building her own family with John.) This film could have easily been another hour longer, time to tell more family stories, and I’d still be all about it.
The dancing scenes at the ball effectively won me over immediately. (Of course, I went home and played the soundtrack on loop.) The landscapes are gorgeous. The music is amazing.
Gerwig put her own twist on the film – it’s not laid out in chronological order. (Which I for one, absolutely loved – because it kept me on my toes. It made a story so familiar, feel a little unpredictable.) I have nothing negative to say about this film. I loved it to pieces, and I could easily see myself going to watch it in theaters a few more times.
My heart swells, just thinking about how in the opening scenes of this film, I instantly knew it’d already catapult to a favorite. What more can you want in a story? The interwoven threads in the tapestry of life: friendship, family, grief, heartache, following your passions, loving hard, living loud, finding your own path – it’s all central to the heartbeat of the story.
To the long time fans of Little Women – you must see it! To those unfamiliar with this timeless tale – go see it! (And if you’ve never read this story that will stick with me forever – by all means: go read it!)