I could not start this new feature of 2020 without talking about the movie adaptation that is quite literally keeping me up at night. Yes, you guessed it–the 2019 adaptation of Little Women, directed by Greta Gerwig. I’ve always had a special place in my heart for Little Women. As a lifelong reader, so many people assume I’m a Jo–but if you’ve actually met me you know I’m an Amy. I’ve always had my Laurie, both for better and worse. And the Greta Gerwig adaption of Little Women SAW me in ways that broke me inside, repaired me with gold, and I honestly anticipate I will see it again dozens of times this year alone, let alone for years to come.
In case you didn’t know….the movie is based on the book Little Women by Louisa May Alcott, which was first published in 1869. The book’s been adapted a ton. There’s a famous 1994 movie with Christian Bale, Winona Ryder, and Kirsten Dunst. There’s been several TV shows. There’s a modern adaptation in graphic novel form that makes Jo a lesbian. But, it all started in 1869.
From the Wordsworth Collectible Edition:
Little Women is one of the best-loved children’s stories of all time, based on the author’s own youthful experiences. It describes the family of the four March sisters living in a small New England community. Meg, the eldest, is pretty and wishes to be a lady; Jo, at fifteen is ungainly and unconventional with an ambition to be an author; Beth is a delicate child of thirteen with a taste for music and Amy is a blonde beauty of twelve. The story of their domestic adventures, their attempts to increase the family income, their friendship with the neighbouring Laurence family, and their later love affairs remains as fresh and beguiling as ever.
Truly, Little Women is a remarkable book. Everyone should read it. I’m not going to try and convince you further, but I swear…one of the books that stays with you for a lifetime. I reread it in college for class and was taken away as much as I was when I read the Great Illustrated Classics abridged edition in the first grade.
Now…let’s talk about THAT MOVIE that left me sobbing for two hours and fifteen minutes.
This 2019 adaptation stars Saoirse Ronan (of so much acclaim. Honestly. No wonder she got an Oscar nom at 13) as Jo March, Emma Watson (of Harry Potter) as Meg, Florence Pugh (of Midsommar and Lady Macbeth) as Amy, and Eliza Scanlen (Sharp Objects) as Beth. Timothee Chalamet plays Laurie, Laura Dern is Marmee, Meryl Streep is Aunt March, and Tracy Letts as Mr. March (which I didn’t realize until writing this at this very moment).
The movie takes on a more autobiographical nature, aligning Jo more clearly with Louisa, though that’s always kind of been the undertone. It’s period, but there’s some amazing more updated music and the entire thing just blew me away. I would let Greta Gerwig direct every single movie if I could. Lady Bird was amazing, and I knew she would do great things with this one. And she certainly didn’t let me down. The movie does not go chronologically, and yet it works. As one of my favorite podcasters points out, there’s something smart about the way that is done.
This is 100% accurate. As a lifelong Amy, I’m kind of a big fan of her getting the guy, but I also think the way the Laurie/Amy scenes were handled was magical. They were special in their own way–we see the way they work before we see the traumatizing Laurie/Jo breakup/never together scene that left me in a literal heap. I cried when Amy confronted Laurie too though, about having loved him her whole life and always being second, and I felt that so deeply I thought I was having a hear tattack. But, I digress.
All the performances in this movie are pretty good, honestly. I foresee a lot of Oscar Noms out of this. If it doesnt’ get a Best Picture nom, I will riot in the streets. I also think this could give Saoirse her win, and it would be well deserved.
Obviously, as this is being published in early January, you can’t stream Little Women (2019) yet, but I promise you it’s worth heading to the theatre. I’ve also already pre-ordered it on iTunes and will 100% be watching this on every flight I take for the rest of my life. Sorry Mamma Mia 2: Here We Go Again, the current title holder.