Movie Review: Little Women (2019 release)

I rarely see a particular movie more than once for the same reason I don’t often read a book twice: there are so many others and only so many hours to spare. But the new version of Little Women deserved extra hours to appreciate the fullness of the director Greta Gerwig’s vision.

Compiling a narrative from the timeline of intentional backward-and-forward snippets of both the book’s and the real author’s stories is effective, especially since Alcott’s life forms the basis of the novel. Gerwig challenges the moviegoer, trusting us to actively engage in the puzzle she gives.

In the climax of the movie as the sisters giggle over Jo to help her go after her love, the director appears to play with the audience, spoofing romantic comedies. Jo runs in slow motion, with closeups, into the professor’s arms.

This resonates perfectly with Alcott’s selling her heroine to the publisher when she adds the new ending he insists upon. Alcott gave the audience (her publisher) what he wanted just as Gerwig gives her audience (Little Women fans and rom-com fans alike) what they want.

Standing in an observation area closely designed to look like a hospital nursery, Jo/Alcott watches the book’s birth, perfectly illustrating Alcott’s personal sacrifice of a wedding band around her finger for ink stains on her fingers. And becomes the mother of her stories.

If you’ve never read Little Women or seen previous movie versions, you may enjoy seeing this once or twice or three times.