I watched “Little Women” today with my little brother and sister. I’ve been waiting for this movie since Saoirse Ronan, Florence Pugh, Emma Watson, Timothee Chalamet, Laura Dern and Meryl Streep(!!!!!) were announced as part of the ensemble. My thoughts on the movie are more in relation to the 1994 version. They’re not in order and they might not even make sense. I don’t want to spoil anything, so I’m warning you there will be spoilers in this.
The novel was written by Louisa M. Alcott. It’s a timeless story about the March family which includes Marmee, who is the mother of the girls, Meg, Jo, Amy and Beth. There have been many film adaptations, most notably the one with Katharine Hepburn and then the 1994 version.
Marmee is the mother of the girls, her husband is off at the war. In the 1994 version, Marmee always seemed so happy and content with her life, the ideal mother who is perfect and loves being a mother. While in Greta Gerwig’s version Marmee acknowledges that she is “angry every day”, has no patience, and is upset with the girls father for not being around. Marmee has much more dimension in who she is in Gerwig’s version. She openly voices her distaste with her poverty and while talking to Aunt March, who believes marrying rich is the answer. Marmee says that she, Aunt March, “wasn’t right but wasn’t entirely wrong” about her idea of marrying rich. Marmee did not marry rich.
Another thing I noticed and found so interesting was the idea that “marriage is an economical proposition”. Amy, who I will rant about later in this post, had this beautiful moment that I will include right now, in which she tells Laurie a woman’s place in society, she isn’t angered by it she’s simply educating him on it.
We also see this idea of marriage=money when Jo is negotiating a deal to get her book published. The publisher is baffled that Jo won’t end the book with the protagonist marrying. He says he will not publish the book if she is not married by then end, Jo gives in. Later in that scene, Jo is negotiating what percentage of the royalties she will receive and says that if she’s gonna marry off her protagonist to please people she might as well earn money from it.
This very scene is also so funny to me because the publisher in a way voices out what the audience is thinking, “why doesn’t the protagonist juts marry the boy next door?”
Okay, so AMY. In the 1994 version, I hated her. She was annoying and cruel for no reason, burning Jo’s novel broke my heart. In that version Amy’s actions were not justified or given context. But in Greta’s version I feel that Amy was justified in burning the book, it wasn’t right but I get why she did it. Jo and Amy’s relationship was much more developed, I think. I saw sisters who bickered and did things to each other instead of Jo being the carefree creative and Amy squashing her fun. My previous view of Amy was that she was pretentious, I think at times Jo sees her that way too. But there is something to be said about someone who isn’t ashamed about what she wants, and especially not sugarcoating it or making it seem pleasant to please others. I find myself saying what I want but not fully expressing it because of how it may sound. Amy knows her place in society and aspires to a better life and knows that marrying rich is the only way.
The Amy and Laurie plot line was much more believable. From the start of the movie you see Amy and Laurie. When she’s in the carriage she sees him and they have a moment. When she is hit by her teacher he is there to help her. When she falls in the ice he rescues her. And when he is aimlessly living his life she sets him back on track. I have this idea and it probably isn’t right. Laurie and Jo together are carefree and long for an idyllic life, they talk off running away to join a pirate ship. While Amy and Laurie talk about the future. Laurie and Jo are more siblings than lovers.
Jo knows this. Theres a point in the movie when she regrets declining Laurie and writes him a letter telling him she’s changed her mind. She doesn’t do this out of love for him but out of loneliness. She wants to be loves, but Marmee points out that wanting to be loved and loving are two different things.
I also LOVED how all the sisters had a fleshed out storyline. Beth is much more central to the story, she has a friendship with Mr. Laurence.
We see young Meg pining for riches and then we see adult Meg struggling to even afford a winter coat.
Okay, so now the ending! My little sister and I couldn’t believe the ending. Does Jo marry Bhaer or not? I don’t think she did. The end sequence we see cuts of Jo watching her novel being printed and negotiating a deal with the publisher, agreeing to marry her protagonist and we see Jo chasing after Bhaer in the rain. Its when she concedes to marrying her protagonist off we see Jo and Bhaer kiss, but was it fiction or not? The end was too much like a rom-com, so I choose to believe she didn’t marry.
There was a scene in which Jo goes on to have a monologue about women being more than romance and beauty but that she is lonely, Beth having just died, Amy in Europe, Meg married. I think this is the true moment in which she realized her childhood is over. I also think that if Jo and Bhaers relationship would have been even more fleshed out it would be believable and if they had explicitly ended up together (the ending is left up to interpretation, I choose to believe they didn’t marry) it would’ve been fine by me. Because it’s okay for someone to change their mind. It’s okay to not do the things you said you would or in this case do what you said you wouldn’t.
I’m sure I’ll get more ideas when I watch it again. But these were the more pressing thoughts I had immediately after.