I’ve got the key to my castle in the air, but whether I can unlock the door remains to be seen.”Louisa May Alcott, Little Women
First of all, a disclaimer. Little Women, by Louisa May Alcott, is my favorite book of all time. It was a Christmas gift from my mother when I was 7, and is the consistent marker of my childhood, my teenage self, and I have carried it with me as a talisman throughout my adult life. High praise, I know. Jo March is my patron saint, so each time a movie based on the book comes out, I break out into a cold sweat, thinking dark thoughts, absolutely SURE that it won’t do the book or the character of Jo justice. I was sure that Winona Ryder could not do the job in 1994, and darned if she wasn’t brilliant. I heaved a great sigh of relief.
Fast forward to the new movie just released a few weeks ago. I was not in a hurry to see it. I needed time to look at the trailers (honestly!), and see if I could bear it. Saoirse Ronan playing Jo? Okay.. we’ll see. Well, I summoned the courage, and accompanied my dear friend to the theater yesterday, and put Miss Saoirse to the test, and….she was brilliant. REALLY brilliant. It was a wonderful experience to watch her BE Jo March. She was perfectly irreverent. Her performance made me love her.
Was the movie perfect? No. Did it stick faithfully to the book? Mostly. Was Timothy Chalamet the perfect Laurie? In personality, yes. However, in physical stature, he seems too young, a bit slight. (I loved him anyway). Was Florence Pugh perfectly Amy? Yes! She had a “bold as brass” quality that Amy always possessed that made me laugh, and I think she really captured that. How was Emma Watson as Meg? Lovely. Laura Dern as Marmie – Yes! Meryl Streep as Aunt March? Perfection. Eliza Scanlen as Beth? Fine (Not Claire Danes, but good). James Norton as Brooke? Pure Heaven, (but I’m a big fan!). Louis Garrel was new to me as Mr. Bhaer, and he was wonderful. One thing I can say without spoiling anything for you is that the spirit of “place” was alive and well in this movie, and the spirit of family was the driving force in the film, as it is in the book.
I do have a few observations about the vision that Director Greta Gerwig had for the movie. I was struck during the film that this version was incredibly timely. It spoke to the plight of women through the ages, at home tending while men were out on quests, some noble, some not so much (and Jo had very progressive parents who were encouraging of her talents!). It spoke to a woman’s struggle to be seen, educated formally, or to step into the career arena. It certainly was difficult, if not impossible, for a woman of that time period to “have it all”. And, today we still struggle. We juggle. I kept shaking my head while watching the film and thinking that some progress has been made, but certainly not as much as you would expect in 150 years, and that the only way things are going to continue to change is if we, the women, change them. Men are not going to do that for us. Even if they wanted to, the job requires a multitasker, and we are, as a gender, quite good at that (hence the tending). Don’t get me wrong. I’m a “tender” from way back – it’s in my nature, and that’s fortunate, because in the life I chose, I needed to be the one tending all things familial. I’m incredibly fortunate – I have a father who always told me I could do anything I wanted, and a husband whose only demand in our entire marriage is that I do that very thing. I have done exactly what I wanted to do. And…. it’s still been a struggle sometimes.
I’ve heard a few guys say that they didn’t really care to see this film (I think the title is, unfortunately, a deterrent). However, we all need to see it. Because, gentlemen, it may be a “woman’s film”, but it is most certainly NOT a “chick flick”. Go see it. Tell me what you think. I love nothing better than to discuss my favorite book, and now, one of my favorite films.
Until next time, all! Blessings….