Movie Review: Little Women (2019)

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Summary: Four sisters come of age in America in the aftermath of the Civil War.
Um… this is a well-known story so there will be spoilers… but if you’ve never read the book or seen any of the previous movies, then I guess… I don’t know, it’s hard because this another adaptation…lol it’s up to you.
Pros:
Cast and Characters.
  • Saoirse Ronan as Josephine “Jo” March. Jo is the main heroine of our story. She is headstrong, passionate, stubborn and a writer. She is responsible for the plays the sisters put on for themselves and for the kids in their small town. She marches to the beat of her own drum. She loves her family fiercely and feels jealous and/or scared whenever she feels like something or someone is coming between her and her sisters. Like when Meg starts going off to parties or meeting men. She becomes fast friends with Laurie. She does at times laments being born a girl due to the restrictions placed on her, but she rages against the system anyway lol. We see her as a young woman and a teenager and her dreams are the same but she seems to struggle a bit more as an adult with her dreams because of the situation she finds herself in of trying to get her work bought to support her family but also trying to maintain her integrity of the kind of writer she wants to be. I feel that. The thing I always loved and identified with about Jo was she was a writer and was passionate about it. The only way someone could hurt her would be to destroy her work so when it happened, her anger and sadness, I got that. She wants to be in a world where her value as a woman, as a writer, a creator, is more important than being a wife or a mother. Saoirse Ronan was a great choice for Jo because she has the energy needed for someone so passionate and strong-willed. She had great chemistry with her sisters, and when she was angry at any of them for whatever reason, the looks she would give, as a sister, I was like “yep”, been there. Her friendship with Laurie was great and that is due to the chemistry she has with Chalamet and I believed in their friendship. I believed in her ambitions and her need to write, and I understood her slumps and Saoirse does such a great job in embodying her, that she might be my favorite portrayal of Jo thus far.
  • Emma Watson as Margaret “Meg” March. Meg is the oldest of the sisters and usually considered the “prettiest” and I think Emma Watson really does look beautiful in this film. The darker hair really suits her. Being that she’s the oldest, a lot of times the “motherly” duties fall to her, but she struggles a little because she wants to be had nice things, she doesn’t want to be poor for all her life, she wants to be a wife and a mother. She wants a family of her own. She has a great line to Jo “Just because my dreams are different than yours doesn’t make them any less important” and I thought that was a great line for her. It showed that while she may not be as independent as Jo, she knows what she wants in her life and that’s just as important as Jo’s independence. It was always an interesting addition to her that she wishes for the finer things in life but then falls in love with a poor man. It really goes to show you how love could be. I’ve always loved Emma Watson and I thought she was a great choice for Meg, because she has a youthful energy about her but also very poised which is what Meg is, which is why she can turn heads of young men. She and Saoirse have great chemistry since they seem close and I felt like she was the oldest sister in this unique group of sisters. There were a few times where her British accent came through, but she does a really good job at her American accent. It gets better every time I hear her do one. I love her, she’s great lol.
  • Florence Pugh as Amy March. So, at first, I was a little surprised that she played Amy as both an adult and a child. Usually, Amy is played by two actresses and maybe that’s the problem. I’ve seen reviews complain about her coming off awkward as young Amy, but I thought she embodied the bratty, spoiled and energetic personality that Amy has as a child really well. The only time I didn’t believe her was when she was crying after getting in trouble at school. That looked silly lol but otherwise, I believed her at both stages in Amy’s life. Honestly, she was the standout as well, which is a lot coming from me because Amy was always the sister, I liked the least. As an adult, which we get to see a lot of this version of Amy as well, she really is a proper lady, but she is outspoken and has a maturity and strength to her that she’s always had, but now that she’s older and has a bit more life experience, it’s clearer now. One of my favorite scenes is when she’s speaking to Laurie about him throwing away his life, and she talks about women’s role. It was a fantastic scene and she did it in such a subtle but clearly passionate way. She was great. I really like Florence Pugh, I like her a lot.
  • Eliza Scanlen as Elizabeth “Beth” March. I haven’t seen her in anything, but she was a great Beth. She was shy, compassionate and loving. I loved how much she loved others. She was sweet and had a great bond with her sisters and they were fiercely protective of her because of her shy nature, but she also didn’t take their strong personalities laying down. I really liked the relationship that she had with Mr. Laurence, even if all of it was not always them talking to each other. There was a mutual understanding between them, and I liked it. She was great.
  • Timothée Chalamet as Theodore “Laurie” Laurence. Laurie has always been one of my favorite male literary characters. I don’t know why lol, I think Christian Bale helped my love for him growing up and I think Timothée Chalamet was a great choice to play him. I really like Timothée Chalamet, there’s something delightfully tragic and romantic about him, I think it’s the eyes. But I like how quickly him, and Jo fall into a friendship and it’s clear he’s falling in love with her. I disagree that people who start out as best friends can’t at some point fall in love, in fact, I think that’s what usually happens at some point. It may not last forever, but someone has considered if their feelings were more romantic than platonic at some point. Anyway, he becomes so ingrained in the family and I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that he doesn’t have his parents, and the delightful chaos of the March women pulls him in. There’s a scene, after he helps Jo bring Meg (when she hurt her ankle) that he just stands off to the side and watches them fuss over each other and the look on his face shows it all. Later, when he’s an adult, he’s lost, clearly and just fumbles through life and I think Timothée Chalamet does a great job at the fun loving Laurie who falls in love with the March family, who falls in love with Jo, the Laurie who is fumbling through life and then the one who is getting his revelation later. I do think, for the older versions, his young face might throw you off lol, but I think he was a great choice.
Supporting Characters.
  • Laura Dern as Marmee March. I think she just the right amount of loving and selfless. She and Jo have a nice moment where she confesses seeing a lot of herself in Jo, which shocks her, but she says that she had a revelation which helped her in life. I think she works well as their mother, she may not always say what she’s feeling or thinking but you see it on her face. Laura Dern has a very expressive face. She’s great.
  • Meryl Streep as Aunt March. I mean, she’s Meryl Streep, you can’t go wrong with that lol. She’s a great Aunt March, perfectly funny, sassy and crotchety as Aunt March always is. While she doesn’t always come off as the most loving person, I think it’s clear she loves the girls, particularly Jo who might be the thorn in her side. She has some nuggets of wisdom as well. What can I say? Always great.
  • James Norton as John Brooke. His role is small but he’s likable as he always is, at least to me. He’s Laurie’s tutor and he becomes taken with Meg. I like how we get a few moments of them running into each other or interacting before they move forward with anything. I also like we get to see him and his family with their issues later. He’s just not forgotten about. I don’t think I’ve seen this actor in anything, but he has a recognizable face. He’s fine though, he’s sweet and that’s what matters for Mr. Brooke.
  • Louis Garrel as Friedrich Bhaer. We get introduced to him earlier on since the movie starts out with them as adults and Jo is in New York. He’s French and a Professor living in the boarding house with Jo. They kind of are friends but it’s a little awkward lol. He’s nice though. I don’t think he’s as old as he was supposed to be, but it works because while he physically might not be 40, he has an older/wiser soul and you can feel that.
  • Chris Cooper as Mr. Laurence. I almost didn’t recognize him until they showed a painting of younger Mr. Laurence lol, but he looks great with that beard. He’s Laurie’s grandfather and he also takes a liking to the March family, particularly Beth and I like the moments we get with the two of them, even if they’re not directly interacting with each other. I thought he was great. I wish we got to see him interact with Laurie more though.
Family Dynamic. I’ve always loved the March family because they’re different in their interests but they’re sisters and they love each other. The chaos in this movie of their everyday lives is amazing. I really enjoyed watching them bicker back and forth, talk over each other and just be. Whenever all four sisters were on screen together, it was great. They had chemistry and when Marmee was involved, it was nice as well. I think it really worked and it always matters how the March family works with each other and I really believed these ladies were a family. It reminded me of my family in how there’s energy and chaos, but they love each other, and it works.
Character Chemistry. Going along with the point above, the character chemistry in this movie is amazing. The March family’s chemistry is great, the sisters are great. Even when they’re angry with each other, it’s great. This is particularly noticeable in how Saoirse Ronan and Timothée Chalamet work with each other and the friendship that Jo and Laurie have. Ever since I was a little girl and I read the book, though I’m not sure if I ever read the whole book, I know I read the condensed version lol, I always was mad that Jo and Laurie didn’t end up together. I get Jo’s reasoning, always have, doesn’t mean I have to agree!! Anyway, they have great chemistry so their friendship is great, and you can clearly see the love that Laurie has for her during their younger years. Timothée Chalamet’s love eyes are noticeable lol. THEN what also works, which super annoys me, is the chemistry between Amy and Laurie. I never liked that they ended up together. Yes, Laurie says he always knew he would be part of the March family, but the fact it was Amy, always bugged me. She was my least favorite of the sisters and it seemed like he downgraded HOWEVER because they allowed more maturity from Amy, and we got to see more with her and Florence Pugh was so charismatic and likable as Amy, I found that I was annoyingly okay with their marriage. Meg and John Brooks work as well, even Beth and Mr. Lawrence have nice moments together. The script is great, but the acting really works.
Cinematography. I think this movie is beautiful! Because this movie isn’t told linearly, the way the film tells you as it moves forward, when scenes are. It’s because of the color palette. When it’s the past, the colors are brighter and when it’s the present, then it’s a bit softer in color. It’s noticeable I think, and it helped me from getting confused of the timeline. Plus, I know the story so that helped too lol. But the movie is beautiful.
Emotionally Beautiful. I think I cried like 5 times in the film. I don’t know if it’s because I’m just emotional right now, but I cried. I don’t think I’ve ever cried past Beth death. I think I even cried during Laurie and Jo’s argument scene when she rejects him. I think I also cried when she finds out later that Laurie married Amy. I cried during Jo’s scene with her mother.

Women have minds and souls as well as just hearts, and they’ve got ambition and talent as well as just beauty. And I’m sick of people saying that love is all a woman is fit for. I’m so sick of it! But… I’m so lonely!

-Jo March (Little Women 2019)

It’s such a beautiful monologue and Saoirse Ronan performs it perfectly. I felt that because even though it’s 2019 almost 2020 this is still something that people think of women. I’m sick of it! She’s talking about being independent but there’s so much pressure on women in being mothers and wives and she hates it but she’s lonely. I felt that entire scene. I was in tears. I’ve always identified with Jo and I think I really identified with her the most in this film. I’m not sure why, perhaps it’s because she’s more outspoken about romance and how she feels about women and their place in the world and I’m an adult now, so her personality and roles hit me more. But she gives this speech to Marmee and I felt all of that and I identified with that that it made me cry.
Storytelling. This movie is not told in order. I was a little unsure about this at first but as the movie went on, I became increasingly okay with it. When we first start, it’s in the present with Jo in New York, we’ll see her life there, trying to get her work published in newspapers and we even meet the Professor. I was shocked because all of this happens later in the story.
Costumes! I do really love period pieces because I love the clothes. Jacqueline Durran (Atonement, Beauty and the Beast, Anna Karenina, Pride & Prejudice) does the costume design in this film and I love all the clothes. I particularly love the blue dress we first see Amy in as an adult and the pink dress Meg wears (pictured below). Timothée Chalamet has some nice pieces as Laurie too, I’ve never realized how tall and lanky he is until watching him in these clothes lol, but he wears them well. I also really loved Amy’s white and black ensemble when she and Laurie have their “fight” outside. They’re just beautiful and the lighting really compliments the clothing.

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Cons:
It’s not Linear. This didn’t particularly bother me as the film went on, I was a little shocked it was going to do this at first. I can imagine people not liking that though. I can imagine the shifts being a bit too subtle and viewers complaining about it. I’ve already seen someone complain about it online, so I wanted to put it here, to show that I noticed and at first, I was unsure about that choice.
Overall, I looooved this movie. I really did. I love Little Women in general but I really loved this adaptation. There was something refreshing about it and I thought Greta Gerwig did a great job in adapting it for a new audience. The casting was spot on with Saoirse Ronan and Florence Pugh being standouts respectively. Everyone had wonderful chemistry while working together, I believed in their familial ties, friendships and romances respectively. It’s emotionally beautiful, so don’t be surprised if you cry. A lot. It has amazing cinematography; the colors help emphasize the time period and it helps bring out the colors in the amazing costumes. I also like how the story is told, it’s not linear which works just fine for me. My only problem was with the fact it wasn’t linear but it’s not a personal problem, just something I’m acknowledging for those who might dislike that. But in the end, I really loved this movie.
Rating: 4.7 out of 5 stars.
Have you seen Little Women? What are your thoughts on this timeless classic? Which adaptation is your favorite? Let me know in the comments below!
Thanks for reading and be sure to keep an eye out for more Movie Reviews and other content!