Little Women

Confession time: I’ve never read Louisa May Alcott’s classic novel, Little Women, first published in 1868. I always thought, rightly or wrongly, that it was the sort of book women read, but real men didn’t.

That meant I thought twice when offered the opportunity to preview a modern film adaptation, which hits theatres today. My uneducated guess was that it would be a classic chick flick. But, as a real man, I can put up with a “chick flick” to please the women in my life, especially if it is well done.

For all I know, Little Women, which hits theatres today, bears no resemblance whatsoever to the 19th century novel except for its title. Not having read the book meant I had no preconceptions about how the characters should look or behave and could just enjoy the story. Setting it in the 21st century may upset some purists, but I probably enjoyed it more than I would have a period piece.

The film is indeed designed to appeal primarily to women. There are men in this story, but they aren’t necessary to the plot. Or at least that is one way of seeing it. The men do serve a purpose as love interests, but I think a strong film could have been made without those subplots.

This is a film about following your dreams, which is something anyone can relate to. Jo March, the second of the four sisters, follows her dreams, even when those around her suggest she might be a trifle unrealistic. Or maybe a lot unrealistic.

Sarah Davenport, playing Jo, steals the film. I don’t know if Jo was the dominant character in the novel, but she certainly comes across larger than life in this film version. I couldn’t decide if I liked the character or disliked her, but she came across as a force to be reckoned with in any situation.

The big question is, did I enjoy the film? The short answer is, yes. It was predictable as far as the plotting goes, but that is to be expected in a genre film. The cast, none of whose names I recognized, were all believable in their parts – something that may be attributable to a strong script. The characters were believable and consistent.

While the characters at times deal with serious issues, this is not a film with a “message.” At the end I didn’t want to run out and save the world. (That’s probably a good thing – with my luck I would just get hit by a car.) It is a vehicle for entertainment and delivers on its promise.

I’m sure there will be quite a few men in the theatres this weekend as the film opens across North America. It strikes me as a “date movie.” I think those men who have reluctantly agreed to the show will be surprised to find they enjoyed the movie. As “chick flicks” go, it was quite acceptable.

Little Women has been made into a movie before (six times!), and this film is not the end. I note that there is a star-studded (Emma Watson, Meryl Streep) version of Little Women set to release in 2019. The online synopsis I read indicates that the film is much closer to the original, being set in post-Civil War America. I wonder how the two will compare?

 

“Film has been provided courtesy of Pure Flix and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc.”

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