Little Women (2019)

little women poster 2019 movie
8.5 Overall Score
Story: 8/10
Acting: 9/10
Visuals: 9/10

Faithful but different twist on a classic story

Time jumps were sometimes difficult to determine and the order of events isn't always clear

Movie Info

Movie Name: Little Women

Studio:  Columbia Pictures

Genre(s): Drama

Release Date(s): December 7, 2019 (Premiere)/December 25, 2019 (US)

MPAA Rating: PG

little women 2019 jo laurie saoirse ronan timothee chalamet

We’re the perfect couple…if we don’t destroy each other

The March family is trying to make ends meet. With their father (Bob Odenkirk) with the men fighting the war, Marmee (Laura Dern) and her children Meg (Emma Watson), Jo (Saoirse Ronan), Beth (Eliza Scanlen), and Amy (Florence Pugh) are navigating life on their own. When they meet Laurie (Timothée Chalamet), the grandson of their neighbor Mr. Laurence (Chris Cooper), the group begins to change and emotions begin to boil up. Headstrong Jo finds herself at odds with her younger sister Amy…and tragedy could bring them all back together.

Directed and adapted by Greta Gerwig, Little Women is a period drama adapting the 1868 Louisa May Alcott novel. The film premiered at the Museum of Modern Art on December 7, 2019 and was met with positive reviews.  The film received Academy Award for Best Costume Design with nominations for Best Picture, Best Actress (Ronan), Best Supporting Actress (Pugh), Best Adapted Screenplay, and Best Original Score.

little women meg wedding emma watson


I’ve seen multiple versions of Little Women, and Little Women is at its core Little Women. There are good things about this version (including better things about this version) and there are bad things about the film (the good definitely outweighs the few bad). A bit of a ******spoiler alert****** exists for the rest of the review…but the story is over a hundred years old.

Greta Gerwig sets to modernize both the story and the telling of the story but doesn’t really alter the story (which is good). If you had gone into Little Women and found it with hip dialogue or a modern setting or any of the ways that filmmakers often “update” classic tales, it would have lost the feel of the story. Gerwig instead tells the story in a way that is out of order and puts Beth’s death as more of a centerpiece of a conflict between Jo and Amy. Amy’s role in general feels elevated in this movie and it feel like Amy and Jo are the primary stars.

little women beth eliza scanlen

Ah…nauseatingly perfect Beth

The cast is great. Everyone always has opinions on the casting of the film, and I feel that they did a pretty good blanket of current stars. With Jo and Amy being the “stars” in this telling, Florence Pugh and Saoirse Ronan do a good job giving dimension to the characters. I like Dern’s Marmee but I also feel that she isn’t in the film enough to really develop the character. The same can be said for Emma Watson’s Meg and the nauseatingly perfect Beth played by Eliza Scanlen. Chris Cooper plays a good Mr. Laurence, and Timothée Chalamet has a good flippant nature that allows him to fit in with the girls but also have a desire for them. Meryl Streep is perfect (like normal) and Tracy Letts has a small (but solid) role as a book publisher to whom Jo is appealing her case for publishing her book.

The problem with Little Women is in the ingenuity of the script. The time jumps are a bit difficult because the characters aren’t very different looking. You can look at the length of Jo’s hair, but I found myself trying to figure out “when” a scene was happening which forced me to lose concentration on what was going on.  Fortunately, the movie also is shot nicely and I really like Gerwig’s directing style so that helps clear up some of the confusion.

little women amy florence pugh

I’m the future…I know it

Gerwig’s big spin on the story comes in the ending which proposes that Jo doesn’t end up with Friedrich Bhaer played by Louis Garrel. There is something sour about the story which has a strong women proclaiming her independence the whole time and almost settling for a character we have barely met (after deciding a life with Laurie might be ok). Gerwig script has the marriage as a potential ending for Jo’s book Little Women to appease the readers, but the movie smartly blurs the lines that it could real or fiction.

Gerwig’s version of Little Women will probably go down as one of the better and smarter adaptation. This is rightfully so. I am probably not going to rush out and see it again, but it is the type of movie that multiple viewings might be beneficial just to smooth out the whens and wheres of the story, so you can enjoy the drama and acting. I’m sure that Little Women will be made again someday, but check out this version or at least one of the other versions to be familiar with an interesting story for when it was written.

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Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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