Ok so I watched the 2019 Little Women. I expected to either have a really ANGRY review of how much I hated it, or a GUSHING review of how much I loved it.
And I’m just….meh??? Like I don’t have many feelings about it?
There was a lot I really, really, really liked. And I think I would have loved the movie if they had fixed one little thing:
Put. It. In. Chronological. Order. For Pete’s. Sake.
Why do people get the idea, “hey, let’s tell the story, but tell it out of order and have things flash between the future and the past chaotically, leaving people guessing what timeline they’re in and leaving out huge chunks of the story, and let’s just throw character arcs and three act structure out the window and burn it into a ash heap? Yeah that’s sound great.”
I hate when movies are filmed like this so much that if I knew Little Women was like this I wouldn’t have watched it.
I can never get really into the story when it flashes between the future and the past. I’ll connect with certain scenes and moments, but I can never connect with the movie as a whole, and I’m left feeling like the movie never really started.
Like…why…did anyone thinking bouncing back and forth was a great idea? Life happens chronologically. Stories should too.
Ok, ok. I can see the appeal, doing back and forth parallels and whatever. But….why????
Like at first, the movie starts off in the “future”. For about a ten minutes, I felt like the story wasn’t really starting, and it was just this weird flip flopping between the sisters. THEN it went back to the past, and I was like YES, this is where the story starts.
THEN it went back to the future. And then the past. And then I laid on the floor screaming. (Actually I went and got some ice cream or whatever).
Honestly, if I had just been sitting there I might have turned it off.
BUT, here are my highlights:
Amy: She. was. amazing. I loved her voice, her outfits, how she played being a kinda bratty and chaotic child and then an adult. (Though as much as I loved her, of course we have to remember how the burning of Jo’s manuscript cannot be forgiven.) (And I can’t wait to see her in Black Widow.)
Marmee: LOVED HER. JUST AMAZING.
Beth: I always feel like Beth is often just chopped off to be the sick but sweetest sister and she has zero personality. She was great in this. She was a shy kid, but she was the only one who was going to go help that poor family while the rest of the sisters were too busy getting their feet stuck in plaster.
Normalcy: The way the sister were portrayed playing and fighting with each other, goofing off with Laurie, all the “domestic” moments felt so real. It felt like yes, that is what home life feels like, what having sisters feels like. This is how teenagers/kids/siblings play around.
Jo: While I feel like there were ENORMOUS gaps in her character, I still loved her. The costumes etc. I loved how her not wanting to marry had nothing to do with marriage BUT what it meant at that period in time.
Women: I love how it addressed that time period, the frustration of not being able to make a living (“except at a cat house of the theater”).
And of course, we have to address the biggie: Bhaer criticizing Jo’s writing and her writing her life as a novel (read this for context)
I’ve never read the book, but according to the other Little Women movies I’ve seen, I’ve always hated that part. It was the cliched old, “If you want to write something of real meaning, write what you know. Fun, action filled stories are meaningless and a waste of your talent”
Well apparently Alexandre Dumas was trash.
Anyway, I think the movie handled parts of this much better. I like how Bhaer approached his critic. It wasn’t over bearing (haha. See what I did there???). It was honest. She asked for his opinion, he gave it.
We also got more glimpses of what she was actually writing. In the beginning, when Mr. Dashwood (the publisher) tells her to make it shorter, she says, “well, I took time to have some of my sinners repent.” he says that no one wants to read that, and in order to get published, she compromises and makes the edits.
We also hear Jo say that the stories are “too gory for Marmee” and she write those stories because that’s what gets published.
However, I think it’s treated a little unfairly, because she was getting them published so she could support her family. She was trying to help. And if people want trashy fiction, that’s what she would write. Her family needed the money, so that’s what she did. (I’m not saying she should have done it (I don’t think you should compromise like that on your writing), but it was treated without that context, that she felt like she had to write stories like that).
So after Bhaer tells her how he feel (and she responds very immaturely), she doesn’t write for a while til after Beth dies. She then write the novel about their life, Little Women. It gets published, end of movie.
The problem is, I never felt we got to see what she wanted to write. We saw her write to get published, we saw her write to write something of meaning (now, an argument can be made that Little Women was the type of story she wanted to write, but she just needed to mature in order to find that out. That’s a solid argument and I’ll take that BUT)
This is where I get mad. It shows that “‘adventure” “romance” “sensationalist” has no real value. It’s all trash (now Jo might have been writing actual trash, as the movie suggested), not worthy of anyone’s talent. And here’s the thing.
Jo makes a point that Shakespeare wrote for the masses. Bhaer says yes, but there was still truth and beauty in it etc (or something along those lines). It’s true, Shakespeare stories are beautiful, they’re poetry, but they are also “sensationalist”. *ahem*
Macbeth: witches and dramatic sleep walking scenes
Hamlet: GHOSTS. Every DIES over dramatically at the end.
Romeo and Juliet: stupid teenage romance.
Midsummer Night’s Dream: I mean…fairies and chaos reign.
Much Ado About Nothing: She dresses up as a boy through like the whole thing (or is that Twelfth Night???????)
They were not “literary” they were not Canterbury Tales or Dante’s Inferno. They were fun, wild, sad, romantic, funny, everything. They were for entertainment.
SO. What I would have loved to see, if for Jo to write what she really wanted to write. Write her adventure stories the way she wanted to. Where the sinners repent and the girl isn’t married at the end (or dead).
However, I would like to add that I loved at the end when the three sisters are walking, and Amy says how writing the story makes it important. That even simple domestic things are important, and their stories should be told.
I also loved her haggling with the publisher.
Ok. I’ve said enough here. *steps off podium*