Movie review: Little Women

Louisa May Alcott's novel Little Women was recently turned into a movie starring Saoirse Ronan and Timothée Chalamet // Photo courtesy of flickr.com.

The newly released movie Little Women is a spectacular film adaptation of Louisa May Alcott’s book, starring some of the most beloved actors and actresses. With Saoirse Ronan playing Jo March, a determined writer, and Timothée Chalamet playing Laurie (short for Theodore Laurence), a neighbor of the Marches, viewers take a trip through their complicated relationship. Ronan and Chalamet had previously been in a movie together, Ladybird, also about a failed relationship and a protagonist with financial problems, who overcomes her struggles in order to reach her goals. Perhaps this is why the cast chemistry is so strong and translates to the film beautifully. 

“The choice of actors and actresses were very good because they portrayed their characters with distinct personalities, setting them apart from each other,” Cailey Koch (’21) said. 

Using relevant actors and actresses was most likely a way to get young viewers to watch, in addition to older viewers who had read the classic. The choice of clothing for each character was very fitting and appropriate for the time frame of the mid-1800s. The girls wore gowns of different colors, and sweater-like tops with lots of plaid and buttons. The editing of the film was done in such a fluid way that viewers barely notice the cuts and shifts in tone. 

The film does a great job of maintaining the main concepts of the book. Although some of the timeline is changed, each character remains the same as in the book; Jo is a tomboy and strong willed, Meg is feminine and endearing, Beth is shy and musically-inclined, and Amy is the youngest and most spoiled sister. 

The movie moves through Jo March’s perspective, revealing how an inexperienced beginning writer blossoms into a bestselling author. 

“Greta Gerwig, the producer, stayed true to the core of the book. One difference I noticed is that the story is told through Jo March’s perspective rather than the author’s, mostly focusing on her and how she felt,” Zara Williamson (’22) said. 

The film was introduced with Jo asking an editor to publish her story. This would benefit her not only as a hobby, but as a form of income for her poor family post-Civil War. This film goes back and forth between their life during and after the war. Since her father was a Union chaplain for the Civil War, it is important that her and Meg set a good example for the younger siblings while he is absent. However, Amy’s rage eventually takes over after Jo her friend Laurie go out, leaving her at home alone. A jealous Amy burns all of Jo’s writing, which she had diligently written, leaving Jo furious and silent towards Amy. A serious accident unites the two sisters, teaching the lesson of forgiveness and the importance of sisterhood. Laurie develops feelings for multiple people, leading to a surprising turn of events as more and more characters come into the picture. 

Little Women emphasizes the way love can have consequences and the weight of making decisions and taking chances. Laurie took a chance on who he thought was his soulmate and his happy ending came with grievance over rejection,” Rafli Harahap (’21) said.

  As mentioned before, the movie is extremely similar to the book, with some minor differences. The novel starts on Christmas Day, with the four young sisters discussing their desired gifts, although they can not afford it. The movie mostly takes place while the sisters are adults and dealing with emotions, rather than maturing as teens. Some of the scenes come too early (such as the fate of Beth March) and some are rushed (such as how Jo and Amy decide who they love), but that is because of the shifts in time. One notable difference in the two works is that the movie is left on a cliff-hanger with Jo and the man she goes back to. Although it is revealed in the novel that they get happily married and have kids, this is not shown in the film. Some argue that the emphasis placed on Jo’s successful career implies that she puts herself before her relationship, while others debate that her decision to chase him in her last attempt to win his heart clearly show that they end up together. 

Overall, the movie was beautifully filmed and had familiar concepts and characters from Little Women written by Alcott. 

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