Little Women: The Millennial Version

 In Drama, Everything, Historical, Recommended, Woman Director, Woman Writer
Little Women

The review:

By eschewing a linear narrative, Greta Gerwig manages to make the twists and turns of Little Women* into something I want to watch more than once.** As I watched the 1994 version in August, I’m heavy on the comparisons/contrasts,*** but I think this movie did what was needed to be done to the story to make this one of the best movies I’ve seen in 2019. It’s a film full of life and laughter and tears, not to mention several versions of cross-in-front sweater wraps (not quite these, but close****) that I need the pattern for.

The verdict: Recommended

Cost: $9.00 (and I had to go to the theater two days in a row because the first day was sold out)
Where watched: Hollywood Theater with an audience who gasped aloud in places, proving they hadn’t recently watched the 1994 version.

Consider also watching:

  • Little Women 1994
  • Frozen
  • Your Sisters Sister
  • Sense and Sensibility
  • The Virgin Suicides

Further sentences:

*A story I’ve never liked.
**True story: after the movie ended, I checked my bus arrival time, found it wasn’t coming for another 17 minutes, and snuck into the later showing so I could experience whatever scene I encountered once again.
***See below for my drilldown
****For those of you who are interested, here’s a handy article about how to steal the movie’s style without looking like an extra in a period piece.

Questions:

  • Which version do you think comes out on top? Aside from 2019 and 1994, there’s also the 2018 present-day one, the 2017 PBS one, the 1949 June Alyson one, and the 1933 Katherine Hepburn one (which I mostly remember because the sleeves were out of control!)
  • Which of the sisters are you?

Favorite IMDB trivia item:

Although they portray heroines of American literature, none of the four actors are American. Emma Watson and Florence Pugh are English, Saoirse Ronan is Irish, and Eliza Scanlen is Australian.

Other reviews:

1994 vs. 2019:

  • Meg: Trini Alvarado beats Emma Watson
  • Jo: Tie. I like both Winona Ryder and Saoirse Ronan for different reasons
  • Beth: Claire Danes knocks Eliza Scanlen out of the park. (I think Claire Danes is the best part of the 90s version.)
  • Amy: Kristen Dunst as young Amy beats Florence Pugh. Pugh did a good job acting younger, but she didn’t look younger. Dunst takes the win there. Florence Pugh beats out Samantha Mathis as older Amy. Best Florence Pugh scene: telling Laurie no.
  • Laurie: Christian Bale beats out Timothée Chalamet simply because Timothée Chalamet looks incredibly youthful and thus I didn’t fully believe he was grownup Laurie. Who did I enjoy watching more? Chalamet.
  • Marmee: Tie. Susan Sarandon brings more gravitas than Laura Dern, though Dern is not saddled with all that moralizing. She’s a hippie-style Marmee.
  • Aunt March: Meryl Streep beats out Mary Wickes (you know, because she’s Meryl Streep)
  • Professor Bhaer: Gabriel Byrne (IMDB has him ranked second in the casting lineup!) beats out Louis Garrel. Though I think the much older Byrne was closer in age (44 at time film) to the Professor Behr in the book (The internet is telling me 40) Louis Garrel is 36, but he doesn’t look it.
  • Mr. Lawrence: Tie. Both John Neville and Chris Cooper are good
  • Hannah: Florence Paterson beats out Jayne Houdyshell

The 1994/2019 verdict:

  • 1994: 6 wins, 3 ties
  • 2019: 2 wins, 3 ties
  • Yet somehow I enjoyed the 2019 version so much more! Directing matters!
Little Women
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