Jake Lipson

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Thanks for your work on this review, Todd.

I loved the movie and am looking forward to adding it to my collection next week.

It's a shame there's no commentary, because it seems like Gerwig would have a lot to discuss here, and I thought her earlier commentary on Lady Bird was a great listen.
 

noel aguirre

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Can we get a musical version next? We don’t have enough versions of this story. Do I really have to wait 10 more years for the millennial version?
 

Colin Jacobson

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Can we get a musical version next? We don’t have enough versions of this story. Do I really have to wait 10 more years for the millennial version?
This is the "Millennial version"!

People seem to think Millennials are currently teens and college students. Nope:

"Researchers and popular media use the early 1980s as starting birth years and the mid-1990s to early 2000s as ending birth years, with 1981 to 1996 a widely accepted defining range for the generation."
 
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lark144

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Thanks Todd for the great review.

I agree with you. While I liked the film, I also had difficulty with the editing. Not necessarily because of the jumping around in terms of different time frames, but more the specific way in which these interpolations were shot and edited.

I went to the film expecting it to jump around a bit in time, as Greta Gerwig gave an interview in the "Times" before the film was released and talked about that. According to Ms. Gerwig, her editing scheme, of inserting actions into scenes that have already happened, or hadn't yet happened, was "multi-textual." I think what she meant was she wanted to use "Little Women" as a kind of open text, and place little visual footnotes in it along the way that she felt was important, where interactions and incidents had resonance beyond the plot. While I have no problem with this method in the abstract, the way it was used in "Little Women" pretty much ruined the film for me.

Let me explain why. For me, the strength of "Little Women" is in its view of a family unit, its growth and continuation in spite of tragedy. For that to work, you need a sense of continuity. You need to spend time with these characters and watch them grow, both as individuals and as a unit. The film does this occasionally, and when it does it's excellent. However, at critical moments, Ms. Gerwig cuts into the action with other moments from the past and future. She does this by repeating the exact same shots and the same camera movements and compositions for different moments in time. What this does is to pull a viewer out of the film and take away the emotional identification one is experiencing with the character. Also, by putting together a string of different moments with different emotions and different meanings for these characters that all looks the same in terms of the way the camera represents them, it drains these moments of narrative and emotional meaning.

In my opinion, that does real damage to Lousia May Alcott's vision of a community developing together over time, as well as an audience's knowledge and concern for the individual characters in the film, and what happens to them. For if all these things that happen are cut together and represented as if they are the same ( which they most definitely are not) then what difference does it make for an audience to spend time with these characters?

Now some of my favorite films, such as "Petulia" & "Performance" uses this cut-up method to show the continuity of different events over time and how an individual character reacts to this. However, the way this method is used in "Little Women" seems to create the opposite impression. It breaks continuity, and takes away the emotional and intentional meaning of what a character does. Anyway, that's my view. It's definitively worth seeing, but flawed.
 
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noel aguirre

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This is the "Millennial version"!

People seem to think Millennials are currently teens and college students. Nope:

"Researchers and popular media use the early 1980s as starting birth years and the mid-1990s to early 2000s as ending birth years, with 1981 to 1996 a widely accepted defining range for the generation."
I was thinking more in terms of Gerwig who is at the cusp. But ok if you say so and good we shouldn’t have another 25 years from now and not 2 when it was last done on BBC/PBS.
 

noel aguirre

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Thanks Todd for the great review.

I agree with you. While I liked the film, I also had difficulty with the editing. Not necessarily because of the jumping around in terms of different time frames, but more the specific way in which these interpolations were shot and edited.

I went to the film expecting it to jump around a bit in time, as Greta Gerwig gave an interview in the "Times" before the film was released and talked about that. According to Ms. Gerwig, her editing scheme, of inserting actions into scenes that have already happened, or hadn't yet happened, was "multi-textual." I think what she meant was she wanted to use "Little Women" as a kind of open text, and place little visual footnotes in it along the way that she felt was important, where interactions and incidents had resonance beyond the plot. While I have no problem with this method in the abstract, the way it was used in "Little Women" pretty much ruined the film for me.

Let me explain why. For me, the strength of "Little Women" is in its view of a family unit, its growth and continuation in spite of tragedy. For that to work, you need a sense of continuity. You need to spend time with these characters and watch them grow, both as individuals and as a unit. The film does this occasionally, and when it does it's excellent. However, at critical moments, Ms. Gerwig cuts into the action with other moments from the past and future. She does this by repeating the exact same shots and the same camera movements and compositions for different moments in time. What this does is to pull a viewer out of the film and take away the emotional identification one is experiencing with the character. Also, by putting together a string of different moments with different emotions and different meanings for these characters that all looks the same in terms of the way the camera represents them, it drains these moments of narrative and emotional meaning.

In my opinion, that does real damage to Lousia May Alcott's vision of a community developing together over time, as well as an audience's knowledge and concern for the individual characters in the film, and what happens to them. For if all these things that happen are cut together and represented as if they are the same ( which they most definitely are not) then what difference does it make for an audience to spend time with these characters?

Now some of my favorite films, such as "Petulia" & "Performance" uses this cut-up method to show the continuity of different events over time and how an individual character reacts to this. However, the way this method is used in "Little Women" seems to create the opposite impression. It breaks continuity, and takes away the emotional and intentional meaning of what a character does. Anyway, that's my view. It's definitively worth seeing, but flawed.
In other words she’s no Jane Campion and this is no Portrait of a Lady.
 

lark144

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In other words she’s no Jane Campion and this is no Portrait of a Lady.
Actually, no. When she's not jumping around in time, it's pretty damn good. Greta Gerwig creates a wonderful sense of unity and warmth among the sisters, while also differentiating between the various characters. A lot of it is really good classical film making. Very moving and emotional. And visual. She spent a lot of effort working with the cinematographer to differentiate between scenes and characters by using lighting and lenses which comes across emotionally. The film is very lyrical; in an intuitive, interiorized fashion, where landscape is the stuff of dreams and aspirations, reminding me of "An Angel at my Table" . I never saw "The Portrait of a Lady" so I can't compare. Excellent ensemble acting. And I loved Saorise Ronan. Her Jo is thought expressed as movement, which I thought was very faithful to the novel. I didn't mind the contemporary aspects of her performance (while I was irritated by those aspects of her two beaus, especially Timothee Chalamet) as I think Jo is a very modern character. She experiences a conflict between her thoughts and feelings, as well as her vision of what the world should be and what it is, and writes to express a more perfect world, which I think is very up to the minute.
 
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noel aguirre

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Actually, no. When she's not jumping around in time, it's pretty damn good. Greta Gerwig creates a wonderful sense of unity and warmth among the sisters, while also differentiating between the various characters. A lot of it is really good classical film making. Very moving and emotional. And visual. She spent a lot of effort working with the cinematographer to differentiate between scenes and characters by using lighting and lenses which comes across emotionally. The film is very lyrical; in an intuitive, interiorized fashion, where landscape is the stuff of dreams and aspirations, reminding me of "An Angel at my Table" . I never saw "The Portrait of a Lady" so I can't compare. Excellent ensemble acting. And I loved Saorise Ronan. Her Jo is thought expressed as movement, which I thought was very faithful to the novel. I didn't mind the contemporary aspects of her performance (while I was irritated by those aspects of her two beaus, especially Timothee Chalamet) as I think Jo is a very modern character. She experiences a conflict between her thoughts and feelings, as well as her vision of what the world should be and what it is, and writes to express a more perfect world, which I think is very up to the minute.
Did you by any chance see the most recent BBC/PBS version from 2 years ago? Angela Lansbury is in it as Aunt March and I was just wondering if you had seen it.
 

lark144

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Did you by any chance see the most recent BBC/PBS version from 2 years ago? Angela Lansbury is in it as Aunt March and I was just wondering if you had seen it.
Unfortunately, no. I can't compare other versions. I'm basing my analysis on the book. I saw the Hepburn-Cukor version from the 1930's, but that's it. I would like to see the one with Winona Ryder, which everyone on this forum seems to love, but I haven't gotten around to it, as other discs have higher priority.
 

Mike Frezon

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Peg and I watched this last night.

We hated it.

Approaching a story such as this in a non-linear way just made no sense. Even though we've seen most (if not all) of the other film versions, we were left confused as we made our way through this version. We found it very confusing and off-putting despite a strong cast and gorgeous scenery. We did not, however, like Timothy Chalamet in the role of Lorrie. We didn't find him likeable at all and were left to wonder why any of the March girls would have found him so desirable.

We much prefer the 1994 version with Christian Bale, Ryder and the others.
 

Robert Crawford

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Peg and I watched this last night.

We hated it.

Approaching a story such as this in a non-linear way just made no sense. Even though we've seen most (if not all) of the other film versions, we were left confused as we made our way through this version. We found it very confusing and off-putting despite a strong cast and gorgeous scenery. We did not, however, like Timothy Chalamet in the role of Lorrie. We didn't find him likeable at all and were left to wonder why any of the March girls would have found him so desirable.

We much prefer the 1994 version with Christian Bale, Ryder and the others.
Mike,

Did you have any problem with the sisters being played by non-American actresses?
 

Mike Frezon

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Nope. Not at all. I thought for the most part, the four sisters were portrayed well. And I really liked Chris Cooper as Lorrey's grandfather in this version. Most of my complaint is with the storytelling. It was wretched.
 

titch

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Peg and I watched this last night.

We hated it.

Approaching a story such as this in a non-linear way just made no sense. Even though we've seen most (if not all) of the other film versions, we were left confused as we made our way through this version. We found it very confusing and off-putting despite a strong cast and gorgeous scenery. We did not, however, like Timothy Chalamet in the role of Lorrie. We didn't find him likeable at all and were left to wonder why any of the March girls would have found him so desirable.

We much prefer the 1994 version with Christian Bale, Ryder and the others.
Yes - I also really dislike Timothy Chalamet - the only film I find him tolerable in was his very small role as the creepy boyfriend in Lady Bird. I saw him again in Woody Allen's A Rainy Day In New York earlier this week and he is immature and wooden. This version of Little Women might improve on a second viewing, when you are prepared for the flashbacks. However, you will still be irritated by Timothy Chalamet and no amount of Chris Cooper can make up for that!
 

Adam Lenhardt

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Approaching a story such as this in a non-linear way just made no sense.
I could not disagree more, Mike. I never thought the non-linear storytelling choices felt gratuitous, and in certain cases made scenes land far more powerfully -- one in particular, the intercutting of Beth getting really sick and recovering as a child and getting really sick and dying as an adult, just took my breath away.

Even though we've seen most (if not all) of the other film versions, we were left confused as we made our way through this version.
You're far from the only people to say this, so there's definitely something to this criticism. I personally never had any trouble following it. I thought the movie did a good job visually differentiating the different time periods, with different lighting and camera work, different set decoration, and different hair styles which taken together clue you in to where you are in the story.

The two timelines move linearly for the most part, so as long as you know whether you're in the past or in the "present", the storytelling is pretty straight forward.

We did not, however, like Timothy Chalamet in the role of Lorrie. We didn't find him likeable at all and were left to wonder why any of the March girls would have found him so desirable.
I think part of this is a result of this adaptation spending so much more time with Laurie and Amy in Europe, and quite early on. That's not a particularly likable period for the character.
 

filmnoirguy

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Thanks Todd for your excellent review. And thanks lark144 for your thoughts. Last night, I watched this new version on DVD including the six special features which ran about 47 minutes. Even though I liked this 2019 edition, I think the 1994 film is far superior and I'm going to be watching it again for comparison.
 

Mike Frezon

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I thought the movie did a good job visually differentiating the different time periods, with different lighting and camera work, different set decoration, and different hair styles which taken together clue you in to where you are in the story.
I see this in the exact opposite light, Adam. One of the great issues I had with jumping around in time was that I never knew when/where we were. I could never glean from any of those things you mentioned at what time point in the story we were.

With your comparison to This Is Us, it is always extremely clear where we are in the Pearson family timeline due to significant changes in makeup, vehicles, hair styles, clothing, and even the use of younger/older actors to play the same role. To me, the four March sisters almost always looked exactly the same age.

Total fail for us based on that one rather significant set of circumstances. As I said, even knowing the story so well, it was confusing. I can only imagine for viewers new to the material how utterly cataclysmic the experience must have been.

Someone in one of the other HTF threads on this film mentioned the scene with Amy falling through the ice and how the drama of it was undercut because she was seen earlier in the film in a scene which took place after that event. Well, besides that, the scene completely held no dramatic impact since she fell, she screamed, they skated to her, got a branch and pulled her out and we cut to an interior in which she was drying off. Yawn. I never felt she was truly in any peril. What was the point of even including that moment at that point?

Peg and I were also cold on Ladybird. I'd have to think back on what our problems were, but the best I can recollect is that it wasn't so much the performances but the story. I am left to believe that Gerwig's work is just not for us.
 

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