“Little Women”

LOUISA:  2 STARS


LOUISA SAYS:

Everything about the 2019 version of “Little Women” seems like it would be a slam dunk. There’s the talented Greta Gerwig at the helm, both writing and directing her sophomore effort after her phenomenal 2017 film “Lady Bird.” There’s the classic Louisa May Alcott novel that’s being adapted for the screen for a new generation. There’s a stellar cast of ridiculously accomplished actors, including Saoirse Ronan, Laura Dern, Florence Pugh, Timothée Chalamet, Meryl Streep, Chris Cooper, Tracy Letts, Eliza Scanlen, and Emma Watson. My heart is nearly breaking because, even after a courtesy re-watch, almost everything about this film fails in some way.

The timeless story is given a smart polish by Gerwig, who remains mostly true to the source material but also incorporates a fresh retelling of a beloved piece of literature. The story follows the lives of the four March sisters, Jo (Ronan), Amy (Pugh), Beth (Scanlen), and Meg (Watson), as they come of age in the aftermath of the Civil War. All of the girls are very different, but their family bond keeps them strong during tumultuous times.

The film is far too bookish, even by literature-to-screen adaptation standards. It’s bland and boring, which will make you yearn to walk out of the theater and pick up a copy of the book instead. I feel for anyone in the audience who has not read the literary classic, because this movie will thoroughly confuse the beejezus out of those who don’t already know the story.

The movie is twee and messy, much like Gerwig herself. The project feels like the writer / director, but not in a good way. There’s an awkward charm that’s cute at first, but all of the small delights soon fade. The narrative jumps around in time too often and is confusing (especially because the actors don’t look the 7 years younger that they’re supposed to be in certain sequences). It becomes increasingly hard to keep up with the timeline of events. This method of storytelling doesn’t even keep the story moving quickly, as the pacing still feels sluggish.

The actors give it their all, yet the movie still seems stagy and stiff. There’s a lot of sitting around and laughing, crying, and hugging. Ronan is wonderful as Jo, as is Pugh as Amy. Both are perfectly cast. The other actors, while extremely competent, lack charisma.

There are a few things to like about this film, including the attention to period detail in both the set design and costumes, and a delightful original score by Alexandre Desplat. But although the film is detailed, it barely scratches the surface of these characters and their story.

Anyone sentimental about the original source material should prepare for disappointment.

 

23 comments

  1. Oh my gosh, this review is spot on. I know the story, so could follow. Everyone around me in the theater is going…what…what..where are we, I’m so confused. Disappointed….

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m surprised — I had the complete opposite experience! Took two of my male friends who weren’t at all familiar with the source material, and they loved it, as did I. To each their own!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Thank goodness! I thought I was the only one disappointed in this movie. Hated the jumping in time, because it reduced the story to then and now events, and robbed the girls of growth. I never believed Frances Pugh as a 12 year-old, though she was very good as adult Amy.

    So many emotionally powerful moments seemed rushed; the gift of the piano from Mr. Lawrence… Beth’s speech to Jo… and a few others weren’t there at all.

    This version is totally overhyped. JMHO.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I disagree with your overall opinion, but I could tell there was some confusion at my screening regarding the jumping back and forth in time. The little girl sitting by me was asking her mom questions the entire movie.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Bad movie! Not to mention that the movie was super preachy and the teens were acting like the 21st century kids. Not worth to see at all.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. A review that must have missed every emotion from a film that was packed full of them. Time travel in a film can be hard for first time viewers, perhaps next time someone can hold your hand and walk you through it.

    Like

      1. First of all, you are very welcome for the comment, I’m glad that you appreciate it! And second, thank you for acknowledging my day being so busy, I barely had time to go see this soon to be best picture nominated film, let alone comment on this page but here I am lol life’s crazy like that.

        Liked by 1 person

  7. I’m glad I’m not the only one who was disappointed. I work at a small theater and I was the only one that walked out of our staff screening unimpressed.
    I was so bored throughout, the time jumping just killed all the momentum, and the dialogue just nearly put me to sleep halfway through.
    I really wanted to love it but I just didn’t.

    Liked by 1 person

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