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Little Women (2019)

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I wrote on FB that I didn't understand why Greta wasn't nominated for Best Director.  I very close friend of mine wrote this (bold by me):

"I saw the film with several people with no previous experience of the story. They were profoundly confused by the random nature of the flashbacks. Beth is dead, then she's decorating for Meg's wedding, for example. I kept having to explain things to bright people, including a voting member of the Academy. That's why."

Hard to imagine someone in the Academy not familiar with a movie that's been remade a few times, but there's at least one. 

 

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7 hours ago, Shannon L. said:

I wrote on FB that I didn't understand why Greta wasn't nominated for Best Director.  I very close friend of mine wrote this (bold by me):

"I saw the film with several people with no previous experience of the story. They were profoundly confused by the random nature of the flashbacks. Beth is dead, then she's decorating for Meg's wedding, for example. I kept having to explain things to bright people, including a voting member of the Academy. That's why."

Hard to imagine someone in the Academy not familiar with a movie that's been remade a few times, but there's at least one. 

 

I listen to several movie podcasts, some more awards-focused than others, but the hosts are mostly male and I would say less than half had read Little Women before or really knew the story from a previous adaptation. Some said they'd seen the 1994 version at the time but didn't remember much about it. One host recalled there was a Friends episode where Joey reads it and that a big spoiler was blurted out, but he couldn't remember what it was. Of course, there are also women who haven't read the book or don't like it,  and men who are big fans.

Anyway, on one of my awards podcasts (Mike, Mike and Oscar), the hosts were both fans of the movie but cited the sequence of Beth's death as the worst moment. They thought it was too jarring to cut from Dying Beth to Living Beth on Meg's wedding day. The host who hadn't read the book thought that Jo waking up and learning that Beth got better, was all a dream. They also felt the ending with Jo and Bhaer was too much like a rom-com (I heard this POV on more than one pod, from people who hadn't read the book). I loved the movie, but it's very much having a conversation with other versions and the pressures Louisa May Alcott faced in writing the book. Any film that goes too meta risks alienating part of its audience, though it's certainly possible to go into this movie cold and enjoy it. Some people also find nonlinear narratives confusing, or dislike them as a superfluous narrative trick and vastly prefer chronological storytelling.

If you are familiar with those Anonymous Oscar Ballot articles, there is a segment of voters who...well, to be nice, I'll say that some of those types really go for uncomplicated stories and don't respond well to ambiguity. There's also a strain of "nobody can tell me what to do" among that group, which, considering the entertainment media pushing for Gerwig to get into Best Director and preemptively saying how terrible it would be if it didn't happen, I worried some voters would say, "Nope!" just because of the pressure, even if they were fans of the movie overall. The six nominations were far more than I expected, given the precursor run.

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With 9 Best Picture nominees and 5 Best Director slots, there are going to be Director snubs. Yes, the movies don’t direct themselves, but since they changed the number of Best Picture nominees to be up to 10, the Pictures and Directors will never match up.

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On 1/16/2020 at 12:20 PM, Spartan Girl said:

But not Best Director, which is so infuriating.  Screw Todd Phillips, Greta should have had his spot.

I agree. Also, I am a total idiot for misreading the list of Best Picture Nominees. 

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11 hours ago, chitowngirl said:

With 9 Best Picture nominees and 5 Best Director slots, there are going to be Director snubs. Yes, the movies don’t direct themselves, but since they changed the number of Best Picture nominees to be up to 10, the Pictures and Directors will never match up.

True. Even when it was 5 and 5, there were famous examples of the categories not lining up. Bruce Beresford wasn't nominated for directing the year his film (Driving Miss Daisy) was the night's big winner. David Lynch has three Best Director nominations (all deserved, in my opinion), but only one of his films was nominated for Best Picture (The Elephant Man). Last year, Peter Farrelly was the Gerwig, in that his Green Book was nominated for Screenplay and Picture (it won both) but not Director. 

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On 1/12/2020 at 2:11 PM, Growsonwalls said:

I just saw this. There are things I loved about this version and also things I really disliked. Here is what I liked:

- I loved the flashback structure. I thought that it solved one of the biggest problems of the Little Women -- the warm, charming, but slow-moving first "childhood" half with the somewhat depressing, adult second half. By tying the two together constantly in flashback we see how childhood dreams dissolve into harsh realities.

- I loved Saoirse Ronan as Jo. I love Winona Ryder but she wasn't strong enough as Jo. Ronan does have the fierceness and tomboyish-ness.

- I LOVED Jo's bittersweet reaction to Laurie marrying Amy. Love is not always romantic and it's possible to be absolutely heartbroken that a childhood friend has now moved on. 

- The development of the Amy/Laurie romance. Thought it was well-done and believable. 

- I liked how Beth was portrayed as genuinely sickly from the beginning. It made her early demise believable.

- I loved the really physical fight between Jo and Amy. There was nothing ladylike about it. In general I enjoyed the rough-and-tumble of this Little Women compared to the previous versions.

Now with that being said, there's some things that didn't work for me:

-  Florence Pugh as 12 year old Amy: NO. She was a great adult/Europe Amy but as a 12 year old? No. Her voice is the deepest and huskiest of the sisters. 

- The very modern vocal inflections during the movie were jarring. 

- The scene with Meg at the ball cut one of my favorite scenes from the book: when Meg overhears the other girls making fun of her dress and socioeconomic status. 

- Professor Bhaer. I know Gerwig wanted it to deliberately be ambiguous if the ending was fiction or reality. But in this version the seem like they barely know each other and there's nothing to suggest Jo really likes him.

- Meryl Streep as Aunt March. Yes yes I know Meryl is a goddess but sometimes I feel like her acting is now a collection of tics and mannerisms and this is exhibit A.

But overall I enjoyed this version. I think it's a great supplement to the 1994 version. Both have their virtues and flaws. 

I've always thought Meryl Streep was a sub par actress.  Mechanically good..but no emotional depth.

1949 version was feminist without it hitting the viewer over the head.  Subtlety is lost in modern day film making.

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I finally saw the movie today. Nearly full theater, all crying through Beth's death.

I'm not going to rank versions, I'm just going to say that I loved this. The nonlinear structure, which I did not know about going in, by itself quickly justified the adaptation for me, and then I found multiple other reasons that justified the remake, such as Ronan and Pugh's performances.

On 1/16/2020 at 8:15 PM, Dejana said:

They also felt the ending with Jo and Bhaer was too much like a rom-com (I heard this POV on more than one pod, from people who hadn't read the book).

It's unfortunate that they missed the point with that, that it was intended to be too much like a rom-com. And I didn't even think the movie was subtle about it, considering that it deliberately cut between that and Jo's conversation with the publisher.

Essentially the whole thing from Bhaer's showing up at the March home through the "everyone's happy at Jo's school, they're all teaching students, even Amy and Laurie" bit is the ending that Jo makes up at the publisher's insistence.

I don't believe for a second that it's what actually happened. For one thing, it's too rom-com, just as said. It's too fakely perfect and glossy - when throughout the movie, one thing that it did very well was the conflicting, messy emotions that are part of life. For another, Jo wouldn't be speaking this way about the romantic scene with Bhaer she gave the publisher if it's what had actually happened to her.

It's there to appease people who do think that a happy ending for a heroine has to involve her ending up in a romantic relationship no matter how little sense that might make, but I thought Gerwig did basically everything she could to indicate that it's fake, from the conversation with the publisher to making Bhaer a cipher to the candy cane gloss of the fantasy sequence. That last is so jarring, especially juxtaposed with the realistic filming of the New York scenes of Jo with her publisher and then the actual book being made. Loved it.

And I'm happy to find that Greta Gerwig is not a one-hit wonder. After this and Lady Bird, she's on my list of directors I'll watch anything of theirs, and I look forward to her next project.

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Although I like both the 1994 and 2019 versions I did think Greta Gerwig fell in love with Florence Pugh's acting and the movie is as much Amy's story as Jo's. The weakness of the Jo/Bhaer storyline compared to Amy/Laurie is one of the ways the film didn't work. There are many things Gerwig's film did beautifully, but the ambiguity about the ending (was it real? was it just Jo giving the publisher what she wanted?) likely would have been clearer had the Jo/Bhaer connection been better delineated. 

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I actually agree with critics who say that the layout of the flashbacks would be confusing to people who hadn't seen or read other versions. I was thinking that myself as I sat in the theater watching it. It didn't hinder my enjoyment of the movie, though, since I am quite familiar with the book and the 1994 film. 

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Oscar nominations:

Motion Picture
Actress - Saoirse Ronan
Actress in a Supporting Role - Florence Pugh
Adapted Screenplay - Greta Gerwig
Costume Design - Jacqueline Durran
Original Score - Alexandre Desplat
 

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I saw this tonight and really enjoyed it.  I loved the look of it, the sound of it and the performances. 

On 1/18/2020 at 9:08 PM, Black Knight said:

It's unfortunate that they missed the point with that, that it was intended to be too much like a rom-com. And I didn't even think the movie was subtle about it, considering that it deliberately cut between that and Jo's conversation with the publisher.

Essentially the whole thing from Bhaer's showing up at the March home through the "everyone's happy at Jo's school, they're all teaching students, even Amy and Laurie" bit is the ending that Jo makes up at the publisher's insistence.

I agree. I don't get too wrapped up in "did it really happen" as it's all fiction when it comes down to it.  I want to get a good look at her hands as she clasps the first copy of her book at the end.  I am not sure if we can see but I don't think she's wearing a ring. 

And you're right, it wasn't subtle.  The movie begins with "a woman should either be dead or married at the end of a book if you want it published" and we get the Bhaer stuff as she's trying to get the publisher to publish her new type of book.

In addition, Jo going after Bhaer was filled with so many romcom tropes with her chasing after him, everyone wanting to go with her as she chases after him, the rain, her thinking she had missed him only to have him call out to her, and then the big passionate kiss in the rain that's almost in shadow of the light coming from the station.

16 hours ago, ClareWalks said:

I actually agree with critics who say that the layout of the flashbacks would be confusing to people who hadn't seen or read other versions.

I had very little knowledge of Little Women before seeing the movie. I knew Beth died (thank you, Friends).  I knew it was about sisters. I knew that a lot of people shipped Jo and Laurie and I knew there were flashbacks in this movie.

I had no trouble following the story and knowing in which time period they were in.  I thought people would be confused because there was no signal that there would be flashbacks but then the movie had a the "7 years earlier) chyron which made signaled that there would be time shifts.

I could see people being confused if they were sleepy or not paying attention but I thought Gerwig did a good job of signaling the jumps.

 

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15 hours ago, Irlandesa said:

I had very little knowledge of Little Women before seeing the movie. I knew Beth died (thank you, Friends).  I knew it was about sisters. I knew that a lot of people shipped Jo and Laurie and I knew there were flashbacks in this movie.

I had no trouble following the story and knowing in which time period they were in.  I thought people would be confused because there was no signal that there would be flashbacks but then the movie had a the "7 years earlier) chyron which made signaled that there would be time shifts.

I could see people being confused if they were sleepy or not paying attention but I thought Gerwig did a good job of signaling the jumps.

This. I also have only a passing familiarity with the story (saw the 1994 movie once when it was released on video and read the book once shortly thereafter) and had no trouble following the film. I have, however, seen plenty of nonlinear TV and read more than a few nonlinear books, so maybe familiarity with the format helped. I do think, though, that there was a kind of golden wash on the flashbacks; they just seemed brighter, if that makes sense.

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Oh yeah, the flashback scenes were very golden while the later scenes were very blue/white. I grabbed screencaps from a couple of indoor daytime scenes to show the stark difference:

Capture2.PNG.c1c09528001a48b635232808e71a8723.PNG

Capture.PNG.6cb200acbe840d91f665cc9c1dde8c10.PNG

Some people just aren't good at picking up on color cues or following alternating timelines, though. My mother's a smart lady, but she's always had trouble following How to get Away with Murder, which uses a similar color technique to denote its many flashbacks and flash-forwards.

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Went to see this last night.  Too much Amy. Not enough Jo.  If this was the one version you watch you won’t get all the fuss over the fans upset over Laurie/Jo not being together.   I hated that Jo wrote that letter.  It really bugged me LOL.  
I did not like the flashback way the store was told.  It really messed with the flow story.  
my friend was not familiar with the story.  She did not remember the professor at all when he came to visit.  
    I really thought the ending showed she didn’t marry.  She did not have a wedding ring on 

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On 12/31/2019 at 10:33 AM, ellenr33 said:

The only thing that bugged me is that none of these characters age at all during the movie. It bugged me the whole movie especially with Amy's character. 

I tended to view the flashbacks more like memories.  In our memories, we often don't look much different than we do in the present (or how we imagine we look in the present).

On 1/2/2020 at 2:45 AM, ruby24 said:

again, this movie focuses so little on Jo and Laurie's friendship, that you don't even get why he's so miserable about being rejected by her. Their friendship is a very key part of the novel, and it's a mistake to cut that out.

I've never read the book so I don't know how it depicted the Jo/Laurie friendship, but I thought his attachment to her came across just fine in this film adaptation.

On 1/20/2020 at 2:04 AM, Irlandesa said:

I could see people being confused if they were sleepy or not paying attention but I thought Gerwig did a good job of signaling the jumps.

 

My reaction as well.

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On 1/20/2020 at 8:22 PM, Cranberry said:

Oh yeah, the flashback scenes were very golden while the later scenes were very blue/white.

I didn't pick up on the colour distinction at all, but I relied on familiarity with the book.

I'm wondering though whether there are cues that differentiate real life from fiction. Jo meeting with her publisher and arguing about whether her characters should get married is reality. Is Bhaer in New York real? Was his visit to the Marches real? Or does it only break from reality when people out of nowhere start insisting that he and Jo must be in love?

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It has been 50 years since I read the book several times in my youth, but I missed the development of the Jo and a Professor Bhaer relationship.  This Prof Bhaer was too young and handsome.  I recalled him being older in the book, and by his intelligence and difference from other men, he appealed to Jo. 

Also thought the actor playing a Laurie was too young looking.  Beth did not look at all what I think of her — expecting her to look wan, thin, and sickly.

I didn’t notice the coloring difference in the young vs old time lines.  I mostly got confused in the sickly Beth scenes, because i couldn’t tell if Jo had short hair, or had pulled it up in back.

I enjoyed it and particularly Saiorse Ronan as Jo, even though parts of it seemed different than I remember.  Now I want to read the book again!

Edited by Thumper
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I had very little knowledge of Little Women before seeing the movie. I knew Beth died (thank you, Friends).  I knew it was about sisters. I knew that a lot of people shipped Jo and Laurie and I knew there were flashbacks in this movie.

I had no trouble following the story and knowing in which time period they were in.  I thought people would be confused because there was no signal that there would be flashbacks but then the movie had a the "7 years earlier) chyron which made signaled that there would be time shifts.

Same here. I've never read the novel or seen any of the other movie versions, and basically only knew that Little Women is a story about sisters and that one of them dies. After the first 2-3 flashbacks, when it became clear that the nonlinear structure would continue throughout, I really didn't find it that hard to follow, especially as Greta Gerwig made sure to include various clues for the audience (Jo's hair length, the color grading, I think I caught differences in the decoration of the house in different moments--or maybe that was just the color gradation, etc).

I do agree though that trying to make the actors look noticeably younger in the flashbacks might have helped those who struggled to differentiate. I didn't realize Amy was supposed to be 12 and the youngest sister until I got out of the movie--I mean, I got that she was younger than Meg and Jo, but I would have pegged her as #3 and older than 12 in the flashbacks. And Emma Watson looked the youngest of the sisters!

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On 8/16/2019 at 12:50 PM, PaulaO said:

 

I watched the trailer and for the life of me, can no longer stand Meryl Streep. 

Join my exclusive club.  I have been waiting forty years for more members.  Could never stand Streep's phony acting.

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On 12/29/2019 at 11:47 PM, voiceover said:

 

Gerwig's tweaking with linear plot sounds intriguing, but hardly original to cinema.  My first thought when I read that she'd done that? "Wow, like Pulp Fiction -- but for chicks!"

And I can hardly bear Meryl showing up in yet another movie.  Even Judi-fucking-Dench gives Maggie Smith & co a shot at the Older Character Actress part.  Put Blythe Danner in the next one.

*blows out heavy sigh*

Yes, see my comment above! 

Pulp Fiction--that's a good one.

Edited by GussieK

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On 1/16/2020 at 2:40 PM, Shannon L. said:

I wrote on FB that I didn't understand why Greta wasn't nominated for Best Director.  I very close friend of mine wrote this (bold by me):

"I saw the film with several people with no previous experience of the story. They were profoundly confused by the random nature of the flashbacks. Beth is dead, then she's decorating for Meg's wedding, for example. I kept having to explain things to bright people, including a voting member of the Academy. That's why."

Hard to imagine someone in the Academy not familiar with a movie that's been remade a few times, but there's at least one. 

 

So, I actually thought this movie was kind of bad. That quote pretty much covered my experience -- my sister and I saw the movie together, neither of us had read the novel nor seen earlier adaptions, and we spent the first like, 50 or so minutes just exchanging bewildered looks every couple scenes. We were pretty lost. Eventually we got in step with the movie, but many of the scenes were diminished by the narrative confusion (for me, at least). We came out of the movie thinking it was an absolute mess.

To be fair, I think the messy sequences was (obviously) intentional, and I could feel that, even when I was caught off guard or confused by a flashback. The movie definitely had a style. But that's not enough to make up for a badly told story, imo. The fragmented nature of the movie was pretty, but it felt to me like I was watching a series of artful commercials or a giant montage.

It felt very disordered and granted that was intentional, but I still didn't understand like, the pay off? I'm just not sure what we gained from the nonlinear narrative, beyond an excuse to skip transitions. Confusion, I can get over. But it was frustrating that there was no real reason for it. A lot of emotional scenes didn't land, because they didn't have the buildup to earn their punch. The characters felt like sketches/archetypes, not real people. I didn't feel very connected to them -- save for Amy -- which is the real rub.

And, while I'm always thankful for cultural sensitivity, the movie went out of its way to be woke in way that pulled me out of the story and felt kind of unnatural and dishonest for its period. (Lol, that said, I did appreciate Amy's scene and the marriage is an economic propsition line. It was so great, it worked for me just as an awesome speech, even if it came too early for me to feel its weight as a character moment.)

The movie just felt kind of shallow, honestly. The style kind of reminded me of the flashback sequences of Zack Snyder's Superman movie. (Which like now strikes me as an absurd comparison, but whatever, it did.) Like -- okay, pretty, atmospheric, and I register what you're evoking, but it's not particularly sincere and I feel nothing. That being said, like 100% this movie was still 10x better man of steel. Obviously. I feel bad comparing the two, cos I remember kind of detesting that movie, and I actually didn't detest this.

There were moments that were awesome enough to enjoy beyond all my other shit. Amy's speech for one, but also just Amy. Greta Gerwig's adaption had such a wonderful Amy, and I think she deserves a lot of credit for that, along with Florence Pugh. I genuinely enjoyed her enough to wanna rewatch parts of the movie, she was just a delight. And there was also the scene early on, Jo burning Beth's hair, which I also loved. The loudness and wildness was so great, and I could feel being in that room. It was also like so much a scene of girls being girls, which is something I don't often get to see on screen, and rarely get to see fully appreciated for what it is. Which really, as I write this, reminds me that there's enough to like about this movie to not shit all over it. It had some genuinely great moments.

Still, on the whole, I thought it was kind of a bad movie. I did consider that maybe this movie wasn't meant for me (someone unfamiliar with the story), but that wasn't a satisfying excuse. I watched the 90s adaption of Little Women (the Winona Ryder) a while after seeing this one, and I was surprised how much more I enjoyed this story, and its characters. (Again, except for Amy, I def missed Gerwig and Pugh's version of Amy while watching the adaption.) Anyway, this is only relevant cos it makes me feel more like Gerwig's adaption really fell short of the story.

Anyway, whew. That's most my impression done. Genuinely sorry to anyone reading this far into this post. Truly didn't mean to write a massive essay. My bad, guys.

 

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13 hours ago, sel said:

Still, on the whole, I thought it was kind of a bad movie. I did consider that maybe this movie wasn't meant for me (someone unfamiliar with the story), but that wasn't a satisfying excuse.

@sel — please, why are you in my brain? 😄 

The 2019 version of Little Women has a lot of great things going for it: generally worthy performances, great dialogue (it just didn't belong in the movie, I thought) and Greta Gerwig's love for the book ensured that every moment was put together with care and attention.

But that care and attention also led to some very wrong choices. The non-linear storytelling was very confusing for newcomers to the Alcott tale, and for those who knew the story, many iconic moments felt ungrounded or didn't land emotionally.

One thing that irked me the most, is that characters kept saying, and not showing. Marmee saying she's "angry." Jo's speech about the value of women, and you can still be lonely (I know that's a bad recap) was lovingly written and performed – as a speech. Thanks for the spoon feeding, IMO. (And I guess they had to resort to saying because the story was non-linear*?)

This aspect makes the 1994 version stronger in comparison. Susan Sarandon's Marmee was angry too, and you felt it in every nuance. Jo is shown in many scenarios how women have been denied so much, simply for being a woman. That scene about arguing over women's suffrage (with an early Donal Logue!) communicates that 2019 speech made by Jo, into action and storytelling in 1994. 

Beth's story wasn't Beth's story anymore too – it was the story about Laurie's grandfather. Timothee Chalamet and Florence Pugh looking the SAME all throughout the movie hurt the non-linear style's chances of working. 

There are other several instances of bad choices for this film. But all told, Greta Gerwing getting a nomination for Best Director would have been a vital leap forward for diversity at the Oscars, but in a filmic dimension, I thought the 2019 version was badly directed. 

*Side note: not saying non-linear never works… it has worked beautifully in many movies. Arrival and Manchester by the Sea come to mind. Cried buckets for both. 

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On 3/20/2020 at 3:22 PM, sel said:

And, while I'm always thankful for cultural sensitivity, the movie went out of its way to be woke in way that pulled me out of the story and felt kind of unnatural and dishonest for its period.

Could you give an example? I'm genuinely curious, as (having also just watched the 1994 version) I felt there were a lot of added lines and discussions that explored early feminism: Marmee talking about how girls needed physical exercise as well as boys, Meg and Jo being told that Laurie could get away with bad behaviour because he was male, Jo talking about suffrage and how women should get the vote not because they're angels but because they're people ...

I didn't feel there was as much of that this time around, saving Amy's speech to Laurie and Jo's declaration that women were more than just vessels of beauty and love (which played out like a feminist moment in the trailers, but in context was a segue to her admission that she was lonely despite all her ideals).

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But that care and attention also led to some very wrong choices. The non-linear storytelling was very confusing for newcomers to the Alcott tale,

Maybe for SOME newcomers to the Alcott tale. I've never read the books nor seen any other film adaptations, but I wasn't bothered one whit by the non-linear storytelling. Further, not only did I not find it confusing at all, I really loved it as a structure--I think the movie would have been much less interesting without it, truth be told.

Edited by stealinghome
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1 hour ago, stealinghome said:

Maybe for SOME newcomers to the Alcott tale. I've never read the books nor seen any other film adaptations, but I wasn't bothered one whit by the non-linear storytelling. Further, not only did I not find it confusing at all, I really loved it as a structure--I think the movie would have been much less interesting without it, truth be told.

Different strokes, for sure. The 1994 version was wonderful, with director Gillian Armstrong able to make very interesting and engaging while retaining the linear storyline. Give it a go. 

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I think this Little Women was for people who's already familiar with LW and/or seen previous versions of LW. It's sort of a movie for LW superfans which I think is part of the problem. I loved it because I love LW, but my friend who saw it who didn't really know either the books nor the 1994 movie well thought it was just eh. 

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16 hours ago, Growsonwalls said:

I loved it because I love LW, but my friend who saw it who didn't really know either the books nor the 1994 movie well thought it was just eh. 

I've said before all I knew about the book/movie was what I heard from Friends...i.e.  just a basic outline of the story and I enjoyed the movie quite a bit.  I thought the script, the performances and the humor were all great.

I think it's just a YMMV type of thing for both those familiar and unfamiliar.

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During quarantine, I finally got around to seeing some movies that had been getting so much buzz but I missed in the theater.  I watched “Little Women” tonight and was really underwhelmed.  The scenery was beautiful and the acting was fine, but the lack of emotional depth was stunning.  I felt like Greta Gerwig couldn’t bear to let a scene go on for more than a moment or two to establish emotion and relationship-building.  She HAD to jump quickly.  I hated the non-linear aspect of following the book and felt it completely wiped out watching the story grow and attachments formed (both by the characters and by the viewer).  I know the book and the prior movies, but I tried to see this movie through the eyes of someone who wasn’t familiar — I don’t know how anyone would buy the love between Jo/Laurie, Amy/Laurie, Jo/the Professor and the sadness of Beth’s illness and death fell just totally flat for me.  Like elicited zero sadness.  I admired the world Greta created but that’s about it.  I can see why she didn’t get nominated for Best Director.  If I were a voter, I wouldn’t have nominated her.  Shallow, shallow movie when it shouldn’t have been.

Edited by MerBearHou
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On 4/11/2020 at 9:09 PM, MerBearHou said:

During quarantine, I finally got around to seeing some movies that had been getting so much buzz but I missed in the theater.  I watched “Little Women” tonight and was really underwhelmed.  The scenery was beautiful and the acting was fine, but the lack of emotional depth was stunning.  I felt like Greta Gerwig couldn’t bear to let a scene go on for more than a moment or two to establish emotion and relationship-building.  She HAD to jump quickly.  I hated the non-linear aspect of following the book and felt it completely wiped out watching the story grow and attachments formed (both by the characters and by the viewer).  I know the book and the prior movies, but I tried to see this movie through the eyes of someone who wasn’t familiar — I don’t know how anyone would buy the love between Jo/Laurie, Amy/Laurie, Jo/the Professor and the sadness of Beth’s illness and death fell just totally flat for me.  Like elicited zero sadness.  I admired the world Greta created but that’s about it.  I can see why she didn’t get nominated for Best Director.  If I were a voter, I wouldn’t have nominated her.  Shallow, shallow movie when it shouldn’t have been.

I finally got around to seeing this over the weekend and agree with this post almost completely but especially the bolded parts.  I couldn't put my finger on my feelings but this is it. It really lacked emotional depth. I never felt the closeness of the March sisters and so Beth's death didn't have the gut punch it has in so many other versions. I don't think I've ever seen a version of this book where the sisters are so angry with each other so often.  Even when Amy fell through the ice and Jo got her out I didn't feel the caring for her sister.

Another observation, TC just seemed to young for everyone in this film.  He never seemed to mature into a man, let alone a husband and father.

I did appreciate the movie not stopping with Jo and the Professor getting together and it really is beautifully shot, but I don't think I'll bother re-watching.

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I read the book for the first time recently and just finished watching the movie. This is the only adaptation I’ve ever watched so my opinion may be skewed. 
 

I read some of the criticism of the film prior and kept that in the back of my mind. I do think if you haven’t read the book or seen the previous versions you *might* be lost in terms of the back and forth in time but honestly I think it’s relatively easy to catch on at least half way through the film. 
 

Florence Pugh really shined here imo. I think while having a younger child actress play amy would have been one way to go I thought Pugh was a believable 12 year old Amy March. She really captures the immaturity and brattiness of young Amy which makes the more refined adult Amy feel like a lot of growth has happened. 
 

I also buy more into Amy/Laurie in the movie then I do in the book. Although I wasn't a fan of how Jo was really going to be with Laurie out of fear of loneliness. In the book it came across as desperation that she quelled just as quickly as the urge came on. 

One thing the movie did that the book didn’t was make me feel Beths loss. The book infantiles and sanctifies her to the point that when she died, while I was sad, I just couldn’t feel very much about. And then when she’s gone she doesn’t get brought up much. Greta Gerwig made me feel the loss of Beth and how her loss does take something away from the rest. I also loved and thought this was a really good choice, to cut the Beth recovering from Scarlett fever and her death back and forth and make both moments an emotional peak in the movie. Worked really well imo. I cried so much about Beths death.

overall I really enjoyed this movie. I liked the liberties it took, and the ones I may not have “liked”, i at least understood. I liked the ambiguous ending. From what I’ve read, I feel like this is prob more in line with what Alcott always wanted. 
 

Ill admit that in the book I wasn’t a fan of jo and the professor at all and I felt jo not ending up a writer cheapened the character. The movie ending with Jo clutching her novel just feels right. Even if I did like the professor and the possibility of him and jo ending up together. 

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I didn’t feel Florence Pugh was a believable 12 year old at all. I’ve never met a twelve year old girl who sounded like she’d been smoking two packs a day for ten years,

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I rewatched this recently and IMO both its strengths and flaws became even more pronounced. I like Gerwig's structure and slightly different focus in this, it's interesting and highlights aspects that weren't as prominent in other adaptations. I think her conception of Jo works brilliantly; of course this is helped by Ronan's outstanding performance. I agree that Pugh was strong as adult Amy, but as a "child" it read as false and jarring to me. Watson, Scanlen, Norton, Cooper did very well with what they were given, though Watson's accent seemed wonky?

What struck a wrong note for me at times is the movie wanting to modernize at points, but then IMO falling down into the worst sort of kitsch. So the tone wasn't always very consistent and it didn't seem like this was deliberately done, just Gerwig indulging in sepia-toned sentimentality. There's one moment where Jo and Laurie play around on the ice and it's framed in such a sugary way, it's cringe-worthy. Or stuff like how overly pretty the food looks at Christmas. Just no.

The rewatch also reinforced for me that Dern and Chalamet are the weak links in the cast. For me Laura Dern is totally miscast and strangely enough her "modernity", for lack of a better term, makes her a total non-entity in the movie since she's weirdly cautious? It's just weird and really weakens the film. Chalamet...I don't know what happened there? IMO his performance is pretty misjugdged, particularly of adult Laurie, but I don't know why. Was he directed that way? What makes Laurie's prolonged sulking so annoying in the book is that he's a grown man who refuses to take responsibility for his life. Chalamet plays him as emotionally much younger throughout the movie, and I don't think that's true to the book at all. It also creates a total mismatch with Pugh's adult Amy.

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Chalamet...I don't know what happened there? IMO his performance is pretty misjugdged, particularly of adult Laurie, but I don't know why. Was he directed that way? What makes Laurie's prolonged sulking so annoying in the book is that he's a grown man who refuses to take responsibility for his life. Chalamet plays him as emotionally much younger throughout the movie, and I don't think that's true to the book at all. It also creates a total mismatch with Pugh's adult Amy.

I agree that Chalamet is the weak link in the movie (surprisingly--I have LOVED him in other movies), and for me it's the fact that there's no difference between past and present Laurie, nor does his Laurie seem to visibly mature/grow up at any point. Like, I agree that asking Pugh to pull off a twelve-year-old was a bit of a stretch in terms of believability--but at no point, regarding the character, was I ever unsure whether we were watching past or present Amy. Pugh showed her "growing up" on screen very well and past and present Amy felt like two distinct versions (child and adult) of the same person. Whereas Chalamet's Laurie just...never grew up measurably, in my opinion. He was static throughout. It didn't help that there was something affected in Chalamet's performance that, for me, made it hard to connect with him.

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9 hours ago, stealinghome said:

I agree that Chalamet is the weak link in the movie (surprisingly--I have LOVED him in other movies), and for me it's the fact that there's no difference between past and present Laurie, nor does his Laurie seem to visibly mature/grow up at any point. Like, I agree that asking Pugh to pull off a twelve-year-old was a bit of a stretch in terms of believability--but at no point, regarding the character, was I ever unsure whether we were watching past or present Amy. Pugh showed her "growing up" on screen very well and past and present Amy felt like two distinct versions (child and adult) of the same person. Whereas Chalamet's Laurie just...never grew up measurably, in my opinion. He was static throughout. It didn't help that there was something affected in Chalamet's performance that, for me, made it hard to connect with him.

I think the problem is that Timothe knows what his fans want from him- an eager, energetic 17-year old boy also given to bouts of melancholic longing, aka Elio. He didn't play older, cynical Teddy at all, which Christian Bale nailed. Like the moment where he's playing around with the chair and posing for Adult Amy felt really off for the sadder, older, wiser Teddy that he was supposed to be at that moment in the story.

 

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On 7/8/2020 at 1:39 AM, methodwriter85 said:

He didn't play older, cynical Teddy at all, which Christian Bale nailed. Like the moment where he's playing around with the chair and posing for Adult Amy felt really off for the sadder, older, wiser Teddy that he was supposed to be at that moment in the story.

I know they give Bale that ridiculous mustache, but IMO it's totally unnecessary. His whole demeanour changes for younger and older Laurie. It's very well done. Samantha Mathis doesn't really play Amy IMO, and that is a clear weakness in the 94 version. The reserve and smooth manners work for Amy who wants to be a success in society. But she's lacking the inner fire that Pugh shows and that Kirsten Dunst really has as kid Amy. So that diminishes the character. But I do think her and Bale have a nice, melancholy chemistry of two people who have realized that they can't have all their dreams come true. Bale totally nails the jaded cynicism and broken heart of the older Laurie and it's nice to see him find love with that elegant, sad, quiet lady. The long lost fifth March sister or something. 😉

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On 3/20/2020 at 8:26 PM, pancake bacon said:

But that care and attention also led to some very wrong choices. The non-linear storytelling was very confusing for newcomers to the Alcott tale, and for those who knew the story, many iconic moments felt ungrounded or didn't land emotionally.

 

On 4/11/2020 at 6:09 PM, MerBearHou said:

During quarantine, I finally got around to seeing some movies that had been getting so much buzz but I missed in the theater.  I watched “Little Women” tonight and was really underwhelmed.  The scenery was beautiful and the acting was fine, but the lack of emotional depth was stunning.  I felt like Greta Gerwig couldn’t bear to let a scene go on for more than a moment or two to establish emotion and relationship-building.  She HAD to jump quickly.  I hated the non-linear aspect of following the book and felt it completely wiped out watching the story grow and attachments formed (both by the characters and by the viewer).  I know the book and the prior movies, but I tried to see this movie through the eyes of someone who wasn’t familiar — I don’t know how anyone would buy the love between Jo/Laurie, Amy/Laurie, Jo/the Professor and the sadness of Beth’s illness and death fell just totally flat for me.  Like elicited zero sadness.  I admired the world Greta created but that’s about it.  I can see why she didn’t get nominated for Best Director.  If I were a voter, I wouldn’t have nominated her.  Shallow, shallow movie when it shouldn’t have been.

Agree 100% with these takes. After waiting 4 months for this disc (Netflix DVD has been very backed up!) I was disappointed.

I grew up loving LW and asked my BF, who doesn't know anything about it, to watch it with me. It fell flat for both of us. He was confused by who was who and all the jumping around. (TBF, he's always terrible with time jumps, unfortunately, even when I think they are perfectly clear.) For me, it had no emotional resonance. It felt chopped up. I didn't feel the bonds or love in almost any case, nothing was allowed to build. Something was deeply missing for me. It's also possible I've outgrown the story.

The ages were also distracting. I kept trying to figure out how old they were supposed to be, and that tells me I wasn't that into the plot! Amy did not pass for a tween at all and looked way too old to get away with the novel-burning tantrum. Then again, I always thought she got away with that too easily at any age.

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Pugh has a few solid scenes as the older Amy, but her playing the younger version was just too much of a stretch and the non-linear jumping doesn't help.  

On the flip side, I really liked what they did with Beth.  There was a real effort to illustrate her and give her some strength and desire of her own.  You could see how she and Mr. Laurence bonded.  And although she's clearly sensitive, you don't get the vibe that Beth is a total pushover compared to her sisters.  Claire Danes' version looked like she would blow away, and I say that as someone who loved that film.

I also appreciated what they did with Meg, and how they showed her and Mr. Brooks together.   And honestly, I thought Emma Watson's accent would be a lot worse than it was.  

I get the significance of the scene with the publisher near the end, but the rom-com vibe of it was just silly and cringeworthy.  They could have kept that whole five minutes.

Not having read the book, I always thought that Jo really refused Laurie because she didn't love him romantically, not just because they would be a bad fit.  But this time, I felt bad that Jo was actually reconsidering his proposal because she was lonely and could envision herself married to him.  You could understand that feeling of being lonely and wanting your independence at the same time.

Performance-wise, Dern and Chalamet were miscast.  Ronan was great as usual, the others were fine.  Scanlen deserved more props than she got.  

As a movie, it's not bad, but I don't need to see it again.  It's about 2.5 hours and it felt long.  And like a few people mentioned, the movie doesn't hit the emotional core the way it should.

 

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"Where's the real Meg? Oh wait… I found her! She's still in 1994, uh… wearing a bonnet." 

While this reaction video (since gone viral with over 2 million views) by this YouTuber is a humorous critique of the Oscar-winning costuming in 2019's Little Women, you get to learn that costuming isn't just about beauty and dazzle, but underscores character and storytelling. The numerous bad choices by Jacqueline Durran  and ultimately director Greta Gerwig, to me, further demonstrates that the 2019 version is merely political point of view (one that I actually support in real life) in search of movie. It's bad cinema. 

 

 

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8 hours ago, pancake bacon said:

"Where's the real Meg? Oh wait… I found her! She's still in 1994, uh… wearing a bonnet." 

While this reaction video (since gone viral with over 2 million views) by this YouTuber is a humorous critique of the Oscar-winning costuming in 2019's Little Women, you get to learn that costuming isn't just about beauty and dazzle, but underscores character and storytelling. The numerous bad choices by Jacqueline Durran  and ultimately director Greta Gerwig, to me, further demonstrates that the 2019 version is merely political point of view (one that I actually support in real life) in search of movie. It's bad cinema.

That video really says nothing about the movie other than that the vlogger prefers rigid historical accuracy over the filmmakers' expressed desire for quirkier choices.  There is a philosophy and an approach to character undergirding Durran's choices for the characters.

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13 minutes ago, SeanC said:

There is a philosophy and an approach to character undergirding Durran's choices for the characters.

What do you think that would be? (Honest question.)

Micarah (the YouTuber) makes very valid points how the progress of fashion could've have helped support the non-linear timeline, and even more valuable, the relative lesser wealth of the Marches and how this status plays in the economics of what had the Little Women had to face was way, way far from reflected in the costuming of Marmee and the March girls. The approach of Durran takes away what the March family stood for, and way it was important. Maybe Durran had a fantastical, "unconventional" philosophy to the costuming, and as I said, this is a bad decision to me. Through the movie, either we are grounded in the harsh realities of what marriage meant (Amy's big, showstopper monologue) and defying the publishing norms (Jo's book), or the movie focuses on a critical and symbolic attempt to revise the female experience. That's a tough call to pull off both, and Greta struggled with it. She had a surer vision in Ladybird (which I loved). 

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7 minutes ago, pancake bacon said:

What do you think that would be? (Honest question.)

The vlog itself cites the rationale, before dismissing it because it's not the same as the Marches in the book (which also isn't intrinsically a problem, since this is an adaptation).

There's certainly nothing wrong with approaching the material the way the video suggests, it's also a valid approach, but it isn't the only one and it's certainly not a reason not to give the film an Oscar.

But for instance, regarding bonnets, something she talks a lot about at the start, that reflects the decline of millinery in modern fashion reflected backward, and is far from unusual in period films (particularly obvious in medieval-set films and TV, where hardly anyone ever wears a veil when those were absolutely essential in the real period in question).

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10 hours ago, SeanC said:

the only one and it's certainly not a reason not to give the film an Oscar.

That's a fair statement. Winning accolades/Oscars is far more complex in what it takes. 

This is why, personally, this version of Little Women pains me. Greta Gerwig let me down. But as seen in this thread… that's just one point of discussion. 

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Thanks for the video! It was really fun! 😎 While I agree that being a stickler for historical accuracy is not the be all and end all and I didn't mind the costumes in the movie. Where I do think she pinpoints genuine weaknesses is how that bleeds into plot and characterization. You want to make a point about subverting gender norms yet rip the story out of its historical context in a way that actually weakens your argument about the realities and social issues of that time, including expectations regarding female behaviour. I also found the whole explanation on hairstyles really fascinating. How they wouldn't have this instagram Boho hair; or how Laura Dern has "Hollywood hair" in a colour wouldn't even have existed in that time period. And how the way their looks take them out of the time period actually weakens their place as supposed "rebels" since they are operating in a fantasy world anyway. Because IMO stuff like Dern's modernity for example totally weakens the character, not only how she's dressed obviously. IMO she is strangely diminished and lacking in authority in the movie and I do think it can be tied back to the fact that she seems like "Laura Dern in vague period garb" and not really like a woman of her times who is trying to change things for the better.

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I found Saoirse Ronan's Jo to be the weaker part of this one actually. Its not really the actresses fault she was miscast I feel.  She is a bit too pretty and delicate for the role.  It was a little ridiculous for her to be calling herself ugly and awkward when she is actually an ideal beauty by any standard. There was none of Jo's hard headedness and lack of social grace in this adaption. Even in the epic battle with Amy the movie acts like Jo was right which was never the case in the book. It felt like they tried a bit too hard to make her a strong heroine and wound up smoothing away Jo's relatable flaws. 

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18 hours ago, Emily Thrace said:

I found Saoirse Ronan's Jo to be the weaker part of this one actually. Its not really the actresses fault she was miscast I feel.  She is a bit too pretty and delicate for the role.  It was a little ridiculous for her to be calling herself ugly and awkward when she is actually an ideal beauty by any standard. There was none of Jo's hard headedness and lack of social grace in this adaption. Even in the epic battle with Amy the movie acts like Jo was right which was never the case in the book. It felt like they tried a bit too hard to make her a strong heroine and wound up smoothing away Jo's relatable flaws. 

I mean, the same was true for Winona but I felt like she sold Jo's awkward roughness better.

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Finally watched this on HBO. I wanted to like it more than I did. It feels like there were great parts, but the whole just didn't land. One poster upthread mentioned the quick transits from scene to scene. I'm starting to think that was at least part of the problem. The movie spans years and plenty of runtime, but I'm not sure I really got to know these sisters. Both Saoirse and Florence were great, but there just wasn't enough meat or something. Emma Watson, on the other hand, was a total non-entity in my eyes. 

Basically, I'd seen all my favorite scenes months ago on YouTube. 

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