Culture and Entertainment

Little Women 2019 and Why I’ll Never Love a Little Women Adaptation

***Spoilers and a VERY Critical Review***


I was not originally going to see this. I don’t usually see movies in theatres, and I didn’t even really want to try this one at all. I was horrified by the non-American and otherwise poor casting. Laurie is not a frail, delicate French-American boy. He was a big, bonny Italian-American boy. I get frustrated with Little Women adaptations because of the inaccuracy of the rendering and because I HATE a part of the book’s plot. I hate Laurie and Amy together at a soul level so I will never love an adaptation.* However, I went to see Star Wars in theatre, I kept seeing Little Women everywhere, and I always want to like a Little Women retelling, I was feeling too optimistic, and I thought I could be okay if the professor was young and Laurie wasn’t Laure (like in that cute, shallow, quick little modern retelling), I thought I could suspend my infuriation at the Laurie-Amy thing. Well, one can only do that if Laurie and Jo is minimized and Laurie and Amy is minimized, it wasn’t.

  • Not great acting, so many things felt forced, and I could hear the accents
  • It overall felt slick and flippant. The choice to cut back and forth in time was terrible, it wasn’t flashbacks, it was every scene. It hurts my brain. It ruined the pathos of Beth’s story, made everything feel rushed and shallow. I think it rather disguised the other flaws by flicking you away before you could digest the ineptitude of the scene. As did wasting time on dramatic scenes, feminist sermons, slow motion parts, etc. when two hours isn’t really enough to do the book justice and other episodes from the book could have been included.
  • Why do Meg and John get cut out so much? I adore that proposal scene and a couple other of their scenes? Its Little Women, not Jo March or  The Jo and Amy and Laurie Triangle. Not that I really wanted to see more of this John, I think his accent and his acting was the worst. And why in heaven’s name does almost every version feel the need to make John a needy, creepy sort of person. Quietly liking someone doesn’t mean creepy. I think he was WAY more subtle than that. It was only brought out by Laurie’s (awesome) mischievousness, another thing lacking in the movie.
  • Laurie was more Laurie in behavior than I expected despite his looks, but he didn’t feel genuine.
  • Why are almost all the girl blonde or red-head? I think they were all brunettes, possibly dark brunettes, definitely Alcott herself was, except for the golden girl, Amy (that heightens the contrast of Amy and the others). They all look too small except for Amy who looked and sounded coarse (the exact opposite of book Amy). Emma Watson is overacting as useful. Beth was okay. Saoirse Ronan wasn’t bad acted, she just was the least Jo of any Jo I’ve seen.
  • Stupid additions of modern thought that are historically inaccurate, I mean some people think incorrectly about history and so they put incorrect and modern historical opinions on these characters. Also reflected in the slovenly, unlady-like dressing and behavior (the hair, oh, my stars, put up their hair, Meg would never have been so sloppy). In the book Jo was rude, brusque but she still followed some manners of then, like being decently dressed and not putting her skirts up to her waist or dancing in a weird, wild bar scene (the Marches were teetotalers and very sheltered, that is mentioned in the book).The Marches were unconventional, not inappropriate and not modernly conventional, sorry. If you want a modern retelling, do a MODERN version. Granted there has been one done (very indie and quick), but there have been so multiple period ones done as well.
  • So much second hand embarrassment, so little of the books genuine humor. I chose to go to the bathroom around the part Jo was writing Laurie a desperate letter, I couldn’t bear it. I missed when he and Amy came back. Actually I was getting ready for it to be over well before then, but I seriously considered just leaving then and several times after that, but I was sure it was almost done. And then it got really just plain goofy when the professor comes back. Any sweetness in that was sapped right out but the silliness, shallowness, and insincerity of that scene, why couldn’t they have had a quiet moment and more time together overall. If you are going to change the plot, change that part, give them a real spark. They just emphasized him as being an afterthought.
  • Also, I recognized Marmee from somewhere (note: I feel like they didn’t call her Marmee enough and Teddy was only used like once). And I knew I hadn’t liked her at.all and thought her poorly acted. Later that evening I remembered, she was the idiot, terribly acted purple haired catastrophe from the NOT REAL parts of Stars Wars Episode VIII. Figures.
  • As much as things in the 94 version of Little Women irritate me (Laurie and Amy, John and Meg being too old and shunted to the side, and John being a creepo), that is still the best we have. Everything is just way more iconic, the music, the acting, the script, the clothing. Amy’s European wardrobe is just stunning. And everything about the overall feel and look of the setting, houses, clothing, etc. felt more historically accurate.
  • Did I like anything? Well, I liked that Professor Bhaer was young and handsome and not poorly acted. Too bad he was given hardly any time. I loved the knitted sontags the girls were wearing. I’d first seen them/noticed them on A Bluestocking Dressmakers instagram. As a knitter, it’s always cool to see handknits, especially since I don’t feel like they show up much in period pieces, and I don’t know much about that aspect of historical costuming. The scenes were pretty. I liked Meg’s purple dress. I do want to go and look at photos of the clothes more particularly.

*I swear I hate the Laurie and Amy thing all the way to the very atoms of my being. I’ll never in anyway be okay with it. It is just fundamentally wrong.

Nobody cheers when the stereotypical jock and the perfect cheerleader get together. The basic rich boy and basic middle-class girl. And that is all Laurie and Amy end up being once they get married, before he was something special, although she was never super unique.

I just can’t like Amy. I wouldn’t like her much without Laurie, but the Laurie thing drives everything home. She’s one of the lucky ones who get everything without effort without depth. She’s blessed and boring. And charming, witty Laurie gets flattened, faded out, out to be her “perfect” match. He loses every part of his “Laurie-ness,” his “Teddy-ness.” Look, Teddy was Jo’s pet name for him . . . she has a pet name for him. Amy calls him my lord (ick), isn’t that evidence enough?

Jo and Laurie are so close, I think that Laurie could’ve waited. I think the concept of love as a pie in the sky stars above thing is untrue. Love is made up of attraction/passion, affection, trust, friendship, and CHOICE. If Jo didn’t have the first, or didn’t think she did (they were SO close, it seems like it could only have been blindness), she would’ve learned later. And why must Laurie fit society’s mold? Rich man, rich wife, blah, blah. Suited to each other? They brought out each others shallowness. Bhaer and Amy got leavings, sorry. And someone mentioned thinking Amy would’ve turned Laurie down had he not been rich. I think it’s too convenient that Amy gets everything she wants. Its too unbelievable how easily Laurie gives up. And there is the sister code. Doesn’t matter if Jo rejected him. Hands off, period.

All the rationalizations, are rationalizations. Jo and Laurie were too similar? Um, “similar” people (and I don’t think they were all that similar, and better to be like either of them than a milksop like Amy). Jo and Laurie had a spark, John and Meg had a spark (in the books, the movies seem to manage to ruin this). No one else did.


    • Livia Rose

      Lol, I know I’m pretty negative and my sisters were complaining about how I’m always criticizing movies. I like to think that some of it is critiquing, but I could be more positive about movies I like. I thought I should give a negativity warning.

      I think I just really want a version that I can like some of it. And keep dreaming that the Laurie Jo situation will be magically fixed I suppose. I liked that Meg and John got their proposal scene in the Katherine Hepburn version. I’ve not seen the two old versions in years. I’ve never seen the 70’s one.

      • Davida Chazan

        I keep remembering the 1949 version with June Allyson as Jo and Elizabeth Taylor as Amy and how random it felt when Laurie and Amy get together. I don’t recall if there was a proposal scene between Meg and John in that film, but it had the BEST Beth – Margaret O’Sullivan!

        • Livia Rose

          I saw that oh, 15 or more years ago, so I don’t remember much except Jo squawked instead of talked and Elizabeth Taylor was way too old and looked ludicrous in that blond wig. Also Jo flipped Laurie over. I need to watch all the versions in conjunction with re-reading the book to compare them all.

          • Livia Rose

            I’ll have to look those up, I didn’t know there were so many. Jane Eyre is the classic I know that seems to have an endless number of versions.

          • Davida Chazan

            Yes, there are a few of those. But the biggies are the Sherlock Holmes stories and Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. I also think that the O Henry story, The Gift of the Maggi has had many adaptations, but most of them are updated versions. Of course, Jane Austen… well, TONS of those!

  • Catherine

    Ooh. Well I quite liked it… although all the chopping back and forward did my head in a bit and I still think the Winona Ryder one is better. This version tried very hard to make me like Amy and Laurie, but I still can’t buy it. I don’t like Jo and Laurie either though – he feels too much like her brother. I think Meg and John was done best in the BBC version surprisingly, I loved the proposal scene! I thought Saoirse Ronan made a very Jo-ish Jo – but I can’t speak for the accent.

    • Livia Rose

      Yeah, I didn’t watch the BBC one, at least this one was American made. I got the impression it was a bit weird plus the preview was dreadful. But I kinda want to reread the book and then binge watch all the versions . . . just apparently to drive myself crazy.

      I think maybe that I hate Amy and Laurie more than I ship Jo and Laurie. Everything (in the book and consequently the movies) feels very patched up, “oh, hurry find somebody to marry them off to.” Leave them both single or let them find likable believable partners.

  • Sarah

    My favorite “Little Women” is the 1949 version. There are still many imperfections in the 1949 version, but I enjoy it anyhow. : ) I also was surprised to find that I enjoyed the 1978 made for TV “Little Women” (the 1970’s can seem a little cheesy at times). It is a bit longer, and I thought Susan Dey was a wonderful Jo. Although nothing can quite compare with the book. It will always be one of my all-time favorite books, and no movie can capture the true beauty.

    • Livia Rose

      I really need to do a rewatch of all of them, and I still haven’t seen the 1970’s. I have a love/hate relationship with the book which complicates the movie. But I think almost all the movies neglect Meg and John dreadfully. Jo is given way more dominance in the movies than she is in the book.

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