country – USA;
8,5 / 10;
Writed by – Louisa May Alcott, Greta Gerwig;
Runtime – 135 min
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I won’t set out the plot of this film. This is only partly because the plot of Louisa May Alcott’s novel is so well known. It’s also because the film is so confusing that I couldn’t actually understand a lot of it. Writer/director Greta Gerwig has chosen to tell the story in a peculiarly non-linear way, with flashbacks, flash-forwards, flashbacks within a flash-forward, flash-forwards within a flashback, get the general idea. The only way I could make any sense of it was from my knowledge of the novel itself and of previous film and TV adaptations. This must be the only version of “Little Women” in which Beth not only dies but also comes back from the dead. (At least once and possibly twice. I don’t think this was intended as a Lazarus-type resurrection, merely a side-effect of non-linear narration.
The film differs from earlier versions of the story in a number of ways. Jo’s admirer, Professor Friedrich Bhaer, is, in the book and in most previous films, considerably older than her, but here he is a young man of around the same age, more undergrad than professor. At one time older man/younger woman romances were common currency in Hollywood, possibly because the average Hollywood producer is an elderly or middle-aged male with a much younger trophy wife, but the effects of the #Metoo movement may have made film-makers uneasy about depicting relationships of this sort. The March family are normally described as living in “genteel poverty” but here they seem pretty well heeled, especially when compared to a genuinely poor family like the Hummels. They are, admittedly, poor when compared to their wealthy aunt, but only in the way that a millionaire is poor when compared to a billionaire.
I am, in a way, sorry to have to be so critical about the film because there are some good things about it. It is, for example, visually attractive, reminiscent of a British “heritage cinema” period drama, and I liked Alexandre Desplat’s musical score. There are some good acting performances. Pride of place in this respect must go to Saoirse Ronan as the determined, independent-minded and feisty Jo, but I was also struck by Timothée Chalamet as Jo’s other admirer Laurie and Meryl Streep in a cameo as Aunt March. Ronan and Chalamet also appeared together in Gerwig’s previous film, Lady Bird” like this one a coming-of-age film but with a modern setting. Ronan is the only one of the four actresses playing the March sisters to have been born in America, and even she has spent more of her life in her parents’ native Ireland; Emma Watson (Meg) and Florence Pugh (Amy) are British and Eliza Scanlen (Beth) Australian.
My favourite screen adaptation of “Little Women” probably remains the one from the early nineties, but I will not make direct comparisons as it is a long time since I last saw that film. Greta Gerwig’s film is in some respects better than the 1949 version with Elizabeth Taylor; it is, for example, better acted. (That film contained some strange examples of miscasting. Gerwig’s narrative style, however, meant that her take on the story never moved fluently and never really held my attention. 5/10.
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To much time jumping and grandstanding. Doesn’t do justice to the story.
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This movie is about coming of age in the 19th century and Hollywood chooses actresses of age 20, 23, 25 and 29 to portray teen girls that should be of ages 12 to 16?
Sorry, but this is so far off that it kills any authentic feeling right from the start.
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