5.5/10 After watching “Little Women” from 1933, 1949 and 1994 for the first time, it was time to take a look at the current remake and see how it stacks up. Despite some strengths, this is not the best version put to screen, as I would give the edge to the 1933 original film and the 1994 remake as being the best two adaptations. Perhaps the best aspect that this movie achieves is the pitch perfect casting. It should be no surprise since writer/director Greta Gerwig is an actress herself and therefore has a good eye for what she is looking for from an actor/actress. Every role is perfectly casted but it is Florence Pugh who is really the standout performer and deserved her Best Supporting Actress nomination for her performance (although her loss to her co-star in this film, Laura Dern, for her performance in “Marriage Story” was warranted). This is the best shot adaptation of this story with cinematography that is both lavish and intimate. Alexandre Desplat’s score is perfectly crafted and right up there with Thomas Newman’s 1994 score, as both are excellent. Gerwig decided to change up the timeline a little bit by jumping back and forth in time, instead of telling this story in a linear fashion. As much as I applaud changing things up, this could be slightly confusing for the average movie goer since the movie doesn’t put the year at the bottom of the screen. It is easy to keep track of changes in time due to Jo’s hair being long or cut short, but other times we aren’t as certain and it became a little needlessly/overly complicated to keep track the entire time. A couple complaints involved setting things up inefficiently. For example, in past adaptations we see Jo quarrel with her aunt, who then decides to take Amy to Europe instead. Here, we don’t see them banter back and forth much or that build up that would make her aunt want to take someone else instead. Similarly, in past adaptations we saw how Jo’s relationship with Professor Friedrich Bhaer blossomed over time, making their conclusion believable. Here however, their relationship is barely built up and therefore seems a bit out of left field for what happens with them by the movie’s ending. Gerwig should have taken more time on this underdeveloped pair. The movie also goes on about 15 minutes too long and drags a little in certain areas. Finally, a few characters break the fourth wall and speak directly to the camera to narrate letters that they wrote to other characters in the movie. This didn’t work for me and came off as more awkward and distracting than useful. Besides the timeline, Gerwig unfortunately doesn’t bring enough new content to warrant this film being remade. Last year’s “A Star is Born” was also the fourth adaptation of the same story but it changed enough content to warrant its existence, whereas I cannot say the same for this movie. Gerwig has talent as a director (her debut “Lady Bird” was fantastic and much stronger than this) so I am sure she will bounce back but I hope she picks something more original for her next project. There are elements that work really well so if you are a fan of this story then I am sure you will find enjoyment but if you have never seen any of these adaptations, I would stick with the original or the 1994 remake instead of this beautiful disappointment.
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