A few weeks ago, with Christmas fast approaching, I decided to take on a rereading of “Little Women”. Even though the story goes through all the seasons in many years, it has always felt like a Christmas story to me. I haven’t read it for almost twenty years, when I was a teenager myself, so it’s safe to say I found so much more in the book now than I had then. Life experiences will do that to a girl, eh? My goal was to finish reading the book before going to see the new movie out in theaters this last weekend. I almost made it with only 50 pages to go, so close enough.
The book is written linearly, starting when the girls are younger, all teenagers and living at home with their mother while their father is off to war (civil, that is). It goes through their childhood experiences with their charming and wild neighbor Laurie. It’s completely delightful and never felt like a chore to read. I thoroughly enjoyed it! The second half of the book takes place seven years later with all but frail Beth moved away from the house. Some have married, some are working, some are traveling, and all have new lives and people and experiences to keep them occupied, though apart. A sad event brings them all back together and it ends on a happy note for the sister I deemed as the main character-Jo March. I don’t want to go into great detail about the book because most of us have read it and know the story. I mean, it’s been out for a hundred and fifty years now, so if you haven’t read it YOU SHOULD!
Now, for the movie. Again, I won’t go into great detail with it, but there are a few things I would like to touch on. Let me start off by saying I grew up on the previous “Little Women” with Winona Ryder as Jo, Kirsten Dunst as little annoying Amy, and Susan Surandon as Marmee. Those are the ones I watched endlessly and loved to death for a time. I did really love this new one and was glad I went to see it and will most likely add it to my Blu-Ray collection when the time comes, probably much to my husband’s groans. But there were some issues I had with it as well. The first one was that Jo was not dark-haired. I loved the girl who played her in the new one, she did a great job and captured Jo perfectly…but in the books it references Jo’s dark hair so much that’s how I like her. Winona might always be Jo to me and no one will be able to abdicate her. Another issue I had was the girl they picked to be Amy. She did a great job as adult Amy, I loved her and it made me see adult Amy in a whole new light that I loved. But as 12-year-old Amy, she was not believable at all. Nothing that’s her fault, of course. She did a great job acting like a young child! Just her voice was WAY too deep and husky to ever be a 12-year-old’s voice. Again, not her fault. They might have used a younger actor to play young Amy and her to play older Amy, like they did in the old movie to make it more believable. I loved Emma Watson, of course. I always do. No complaints there. She did a lovely job as Meg. I wish there had been more of her story in there maybe, but other than that she was great! Laura Dern as the mother was good, as was Meryl Streep of course. The young man who played Laurie, Timothee Chalamet, whom I’d never heard of, did a fantastic job! I was really rooting for him, though I knew how it ended. Louis Garrel, who played Friedrich was perfect too. Great cast, really. The story itself did a great job of picking what was necessary and what wasn’t, because of course we can’t have the entire book in a movie. Sad! The only thing about it I didn’t like was that it wasn’t told straight in a linear line. It jumped from when they were young to when they were older and sometimes it got confusing and took me a minute to realize what time they were in.
Despite the few things I have qualms about with the new movie, I give it a 4 out of 5 and would recommend any fans of the story go see it! The book, of course, is a 5 out of 5 and would be hard to capture completely on the screen.
What I really and truly loved about the book rereading it as an adult Christian woman were the wonderful values woven into it. There was so much reference to scripture and God’s way of life that touched my heart. Marmee gives such fantastic advice to Meg at one point about being a wife and what marriage is that it made me have a new appreciation for my own and see it in a new light. That’s when you know you’ve got a great book, when it can make you rethink things and maybe change the way you do things in the real world. Timeless classic, to be sure!