Little Women (1949) Review


It’s time to look at the next adaption of the classic Little Women story. While it will feel very familiar to the last one as they mainly tackle the same events, I’d say that it is executed better. Personally I found this one to be quite a bit more enjoyable than the last version. Some of the plots still aren’t the best and the final romance feels rushed but at least the film tries to address this since there are technically a few time skips. I’ll give the film some points for effort there even if ultimately it didn’t work.

The film follows a group of sisters who are currently having fun times. Their father has went off to war and so the family isn’t doing particularly well financially but they have each other which has always been enough for them. Jo is the main character and she is an aspiring writer. One day she aims to be featured in the papers and to have her books published. In the meantime she writes plays for the family to perform. One day a boy moves in next day and they hit it off but Jo is determined to stay as friends. She believes that none of the main characters should fall in love because then the dynamic will change. She’s not wrong, but can you actually say no to romance in a movie?

Jo’s idea isn’t all that bad. The idea of having a friend is a good one. You shouldn’t always feel pressured to take that to the next step. It’s not really her place to hold any of the other sisters back though. It may be a shame that the dynamic has to change but ultimately that was bound to happen one way or the other. Time is not stagnant and so eventually every dynamic ends up crumbling. You either adapt with it or you’ll spend your time relying too much on your memories of the past. The film’s pretty predictable on if Jo ends up succumbing to romance or not so be prepared for that.

There are quite a few subplot though as each sister gets her own plot. They meet people, one of them grows sick, etc. The film isn’t afraid to tackle some tough themes as well with one character dying. Each character has their own burden to bear whether it be physical or emotional. Part of what hurt in the previous version was that it was really hard to care much about the story. It was all just way too old and the writing came across as rather sluggish. This one does a better job with the writing and streamlining the plot. There also appeared to be a significant age gap in the final romance in the last film which is corrected here. It’s hard to see an age gap of more than 10 which I tend to consider as the cut off. Even that is already on the wider side.

Jo’s definitely the most entertaining character of the group. She’s got a lot of energy and tends to dismiss formalities and just be herself. It’s something that was quite rare back in the day so it really makes her stand out from the rest. Meg, Amy, and Beth are reasonable characters as well although there is less notable about them. While Beth is a lot younger than the others she always composes herself well with solid dignity. Meg and Amy mainly follow the standard path of falling in love right away. They’re solid characters even if one of them does end up rebounding with someone who liked Jo at one point which is a bit sketchy. You’d think that if someone likes the sister you would definitely not start a relationship there. It seems a bit like a betrayal even if the relationship was over. I just don’t think that’s something you should ever do.

There’s not a whole lot more to say that I didn’t already say in the first film. It’s pretty much the same movie only this one is newer. Due to the nature of the movie it’s also not like a whole lot happens. The runtime is fairly long though. I’d say that the writing is fine. It may not be winning any awards anytime soon, but it does the job and everyone feels like a real character which is important. It’s all fairly realistic for its time. That’s why I’d like the next Little Women adaption to get a little more out there. Have it take place in the future or something. I think that would end up being quite excellent as a change of scenery would end up helping quite a lot. It’s exactly the surge of new energy that the film could use and I think it would end up taking it quite far.

Overall, Little Women seems to be pretty faithful to the book based on how similar it is to the last one. It’s a classic slice of life story and if anything may be one of the most fitting installments in the genre. This is exactly what you would expect out of a slice of life if you ask me. There may not be any danger or villains but you do get to see the characters live out their lives and change as time goes on. It’s all quite dramatic in a social way. If this kind of plot really interests you then you should check it out. Personally I think slice of life films need a bit more comedy to really hit it home for me. If you play it too serious then it becomes a bit too close to real life and so I don’t really see the point of the film. A good film needs to be highly entertaining. This film isn’t, but it’s not boring either which is why I place it squarely in the middle. It’s not a bad film but I couldn’t imagine watching it a second time.

Overall 5/10

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