Reviewer: Laura J. Davis
I have loved the book Little Women by Louisa May Alcott since I was a little girl. The movie version I grew up with starred June Allyson, Peter Lawford, Elizabeth Taylor, Margaret O'Brien and Janet Leigh. Which I watched almost every Christmas. So the modern re-telling had me on edge because I was very afraid Marmee and her Little Women would be ruined forever.
There were some noticeable differences - the March family was not poor, Aunt March was almost non-existent, and Jo was portrayed as the eldest rather than Meg. But one still got the sense that these sisters were very close and looked out for each other. Unfortunately, this modern version focused too much on Jo, the use of flashbacks, and music montages. The director's decision to do this created a choppy movie that didn't, in my opinion, flow well. I understand the music montages were supposed to create the passage of time and help the viewer gain insight into each character and to perhaps see growth. But the aspect of growing up with the March girls and getting to know each character was lost because of these two tactics. Even cantankerous old Aunt March, who in the books played the antagonist between Amy and Jo, was lost to flashbacks.
While Jo was portrayed as the tom-boy she was in the book, it was still a far cry from the Jo in the books, who, while bossy, was not as selfish and caustic as the Jo portrayed in this movie. That said, there were some moments when Jo's caring side came out - with both Amy and especially Beth, and those were the moments that were the best because they showed she had a heart.
Despite these flaws this modern version still managed to evoke a few tears from me and it did manage to tell a story of the power of sisterhood and family, and so I would recommend it to anyone looking to watch a good, clean movie. Little Women opens September 28.
Screening provided by Graf-Martin Communications and Pure Flix.