Greta Gerwig's Little Women Is The Best Adaptation Yet

Thursday, December 26, 2019
Honestly, I knew nothing about Little Women until the trailer for this adaptation dropped a few months ago. I knew that several versions of the movie had been made, because I love watching TCM and they would pop up on the schedule, especially around Christmas. I would try to watch the 1933 and 1949 ones, but they were bad. Not an "I can't watch classic movies thing"; they were bad.

I didn't know the 1994 film adaptation existed until this year, and before I picked up the book to read myself, I watched that version. Yes, I spoiled the book for myself but I wanted to watch a movie and it was on Netflix at the time, so I put it on. It was the first adaptation of Little Women that was written and directed by women. And it was nice. It was a touch too sentimental for me, and after reading the book, it was a bit too sentimental for the book, too.

This was honestly the best adaptation of Little Women. All of these other adaptations focused on Jo, to the detriment at the other sisters' screen time and development as characters and people. They were much more weighted, especially Amy, long considered the worst sister. Florence Pugh is wonderful as Amy, and allows her humanity to break through, especially when she's a child and burning the manuscript. Amy progresses from just wanting to be included in society and wealth to understanding her place in a world where marriage to a wealthy man is the only was for her to be financially successful. Emma Watson is great as Meg, the oldest sister who marries for love, but does love being able to be in high society and have a bit more than she had as a kid. And I can't say enough about Saoirse Ronan as an actress. She embraced all of Jo's flaws, because as much as she is a hero in this story, she is human and she can be stubborn. I feel like that trait is only expressed in a good light, and it's rarely been explored as anything other than that.

Of course, none of that would be possible without Greta Gerwig. After this and Lady Bird, I will see any movie she makes. Her biggest gamble was how she restructured the narrative, and it paid off. Equal screen time was given to their adult lives for the first time, which makes it the truest adaptation, because their's equal weight in the book. The parallels or entry points to each timeline she finds are truly brilliant, and the puzzle that she had to put together to make this happen is extraordinary. 
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