I used the last day of my winter break to see Little Women. I hadn’t read the book, and if you’d asked me yesterday what it was about, I’d have waved my hands vaguely and mumbled “Period drama? About girls growing up?”, which wouldn’t have sounded interesting at all, but you know, I see all kinds of crap because we have one theater in town and the selection is limited, so I’d go see it anyway. Jeez, but I was clueless. It’s a fantastically thoughtful film about women who are all different and have different aspirations and have to navigate oppressive social structures and often compromise their goals…but can still sometimes find happiness. Or not. I honestly thought at the beginning that I was going to have trouble keeping track of all these women, who was who and who was trying to do what — I am infused with patriarchal bias myself — and figured it was going to be Sex and the City in rural Massachusetts in the 1860s. It is so much better than that, and the acting was phenomenal, and Meg, Jo, Amy, and Beth all stood out as real and important people.
Go see it if you can.
I am now in the unusual situation of having seen three excellent movies in the last month. Little Women, obviously, and The Lighthouse (a story of a descent into madness that didn’t rely on jump scares and gore), and Parasite, about class warfare and artificial dichotomies and opportunities between the rich and the poor. There hasn’t been a single superhero in tights in the bunch, and I’ve been really, deeply enjoying my outings. Superheroes have an appropriate niche, of course, and I’ll almost certainly go see any that show up in my town, but it turns out that movies that illustrate real issues and don’t resolve everything with punching and explosions are much more satisfying. It seems I need more fiber in my cinematic diet, with only occasional bites of flamboyant desserts.
(Oh, wait, I just remembered — I also saw Jo Jo Rabbit, another terrific movie. I am overwhelmed with great films lately!)
Paul Durrant says
“I hadn’t read the book”?!
You’ll be telling us next you’ve never read Persuasion, or Sense and Sensibility!
Glad you enjoyed them!
Superhero movies generally aren’t for me, and I have crossed swords in the past with people regarding the disproportionate attention they get, but I think my main concern is that amount of money and talent that making them diverts from all the other great movies that could be made.
I must confess I haven’t, though I have read Pride and Prejudice. I’ve also read Gone With The Wind and haven’t seen the movie. :)
Did anyone catch the Lizzy Bennett diaries on YouTube? Really cool update of Pride and Prejudice in a modern setting – I recommend it.
I’m so glad to hear that! I’ve read the book many times growing up (as well as bios of Louisa May Alcott). I thought this was an amazing adaptation.
This year I’ve seen Little Women and Knives Out (plan to see a few others soon) and it is nice to watch stories about “regular” people. Don’t get me wrong, I love superhero movies, but not everything has to be universe-threatening to be interesting and moving.
PZ Myers says
Knives Out! I saw that one, too! So many great movies coming out that I’m losing track of them.
slithey tove (twas brillig (stevem)) says
Jojo Rabbit was brilliant, much better than the dark satire it was billed as.
Knives Out was too weird for me. I liked the image at the end (not a spoiler) of the protagonist holding the mug that said This is MY House
Rich Woods says
Little Women was one of a variety of old hardbacks our parents put on our bedroom bookshelf well before either me or my brother were old enough to read. I read it when I was nine and I’m ashamed to say that I can’t now remember a single thing about it other than that it had a grey cloth cover and gold-embossed title on the spine.
Damn it, now I have to put all four of these on The List, which has been growing mightily of late. I’m going to have to schedule Cinema Time or something.
Kathi Rick says
Have seen ’em all (and i mean ALL – in addition to reading ALL the LMA books numerous times as a kid) and the Winona Ryder version is still the best hands down.
@ 7 Rich Woods
I remember reading Little Women and a bit later Little Men probably when I was 11 or 12.
I don’t think I can remember anything that happened but they made enough of an impression that I would recommend them to readers today.
“I hadn’t read the book”
Interesting. My line is usually “I never saw the film, but the book was good”.
I so wanted to like Little Women. I had just finished a run of the musical playing Professor Bhaer. But this version…ick. The directing was good, the acting as well (it was cute to see the scene where they’re faking British accents and Emma Watson spends a couple lines getting to speak in her own accent), wonderful cinematography…
…but the script. Ick. I didn’t believe any of the relationships because it undermines them at every turn. Jo spends the whole movie going on about her independence and how women are more than being pretty. But the aftermath of her conversation with Marmee about being lonely completely disassembles that. It isn’t that she’s lonely. It isn’t that she’s seeing that life is filled with compromise and that having a dream and getting a dream are different. It’s that she suddenly decides she’s in love with Laurie, writes him a love letter, and does the romantic gesture of putting it into the mailbox in the forest (which was never really mentioned until then). Where did that come from? Given all the character set up, she isn’t realizing she’s in love with Laurie. She’s realizing that she’s settling for Laurie. And thus, to have her be heartbroken over Amy having married Laurie makes no sense. She wasn’t in love with him. She may be sad because her hope for companionship is gone and she’ll have to start over, but it isn’t heartbreak over the love she has for Laurie because she has spent the entire movie not in love with him.
And then there’s Amy. She and Laurie have it out with each other where she tells him in no uncertain terms that she thinks he’s a lazy, rich layabout with no ambition and that she will NOT be his consolation prize because he couldn’t have Jo. And he responds in turn with how he thinks she’s a snob who has talent but cannot handle not being the best at everything.
But forget that guy you were going to marry and marry me, instead. OK!
And I get that the movie was using Jo as a stand-in for Alcott in the scenes with Dashwood and that the demands to marry off Jo were real. But the way in which it was handled were ham-handed. The only interaction Jo has with Bhaer was at the beginning of the movie to have him criticize her work, have him see her at the opera (but with someone else), and to have a single dance in a pub. So why on earth is he showing up at the end of the movie to drop off the manuscript as if he has an emotional connection he’s hoping to encourage? To have the family suddenly telling Jo that she’s in love with Bhaer and have her go off to stop him from leaving is all part of the Dashwood-demanded, dead-or-married ending smacks of deus ex author and took me out of it completely, especially since the musical handles it so much better. In the musical, we see Bhaer reacting to the hole Jo has made in his life by her leaving to tend for Beth. That’s what motivates him to go see Jo. And since the Amy/Laurie romance happens off stage, there isn’t the undermining of Amy’s motivations nor is there Jo’s false heartbreak over learning Laurie has married Amy (she’s still sad, but it’s more as I countered…she’s more sad that her chance is gone, not that her love didn’t wait.) So that when Bhaer arrives, it isn’t forced.
I just didn’t believe any of the relationships.