Well, Hollywood has done it again. They’ve ripped the heart and soul out of a classic story and called it an adaptation. Much like how Anne With an E, decided to go in the gritty and grim direction (and practically discarded the heartwarming story it was based on). This time though, it’s not so much darker (though there is a murky edge to the adult scenes) as it is all about “feminism”. And by that I mean, the angry, twisted, bitter kind with an undertone of man-hating. Great. Just what we needed.
Look, I get it. Little Women has so so many adaptations already that it’s hardly surprising the writers wanted to change things up and go in a different direction. Only, the logical thing to do in my book would be to *write a different story*. Not hijack something well loved and destroy it. But here we are- because Hollywood gotta make that coin and nothing sells like ruining everything we love.
What amazed me more than anything was how they desecrated the characters. They did them all dirty- but for some reason the worst changes were reserved for Marmee of all people. The loving matriarch is barely recognisable in this version- with a simmering resentment and rage under the surface… Because that’s what we needed?! I don’t understand what it is about “feminist” writers these days who seem to think anger is the solution to everything. Not grace or kindness or anything typically feminine. This is a Marmee stripped of love- who says to her wounded husband back from the war “now I can be angry at you in person”. This is a story that celebrates vice over virtue- the very antithesis of the original story. And characters like Marmee are just used as voice pieces for modern views.
And then there’s what they did to Jo. Ironically, despite this supposedly focusing on more of the March sisters as a whole, this story is framed by Jo’s writing endeavours. For some reason, there was an ongoing focus on how it would be consistent for her not to fall in love and marry (something it’s not that hard to imagine for such a big-hearted character) but somehow not inconsistent for her to change her mind about Laurie?! Even though, it’s really clear from the story how different and ill-suited they actually are. And never mind that it ends up ruining Amy’s romance. And that it makes Jo seem petty for trying to take him back after rejecting him. And it throws a grenade into the heart of the sisterhood (which THIS MOVIE WAS SUPPOSED TO BE HIGHLIGHTING MORE GAH!!) It’s a weird and unnecessary change that doesn’t work.
Add in the terrible deconstructed ending, where the kiss in the rain is purely imagination and you’ve got yourself a depressing version. Yes, shocker, we like happy endings here. It’s far better than whatever they were going for with this cold, bleak, sad conclusion that left me wanting. As beautiful as it is to see a book come together, I don’t love this story for its take on ambition. I love it for the joy and the wonder and the fact that reading about this family feels like a warm hug. Incidentally that’s why it works so well that the book starting with a small-scale scene of the little women playing. We feel like we’ve stepped into their world. This, with its choppy structure and disrespect to the original characters, is a miserable reimagining of something beautiful- and we don’t need it.
Rating: banana peel
So, have you seen this adaptation? What do you think of it? Let me know in the comments!