I Am Not On Board With Greta Gerwig’s “Little Women”

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Saoirse Ronan and Timothée Chalamet in “Little Women”; Sony Pictures

The trailer for the upcoming Little Women adaptation, directed by Greta Gerwig and starring Saoirse Ronan, was just released this week. I feel like I’ve been hearing news about this movie for about a year at this point, and very little that I’ve heard has inspired any excitement. Maybe it’s too early to judge, as the film won’t be released in theaters for another four months, but I am not on board.

To tell you why I’m not on board, let’s first dissect the trailer:

First of all, I am really not on board with this whole thing now of having a little mini trailer before the trailer to introduce the trailer. And that is in every trailer now! Like, what marketing team decided that was necessary? It makes me irrationally angry.

But moving on, can we talk about the costumes? Some of them look pretty good, your standard mid- to late-19th century period piece looks. Others, though, are a little like a Taylor Swift video (no hate). I mean, if you’re going to do that anachronistic, almost surrealist costuming in a period piece, might as well go all the way, like Sofia Coppola’s Marie Antoinette, or the TV series Reign.

 

Costume issues aside, my biggest gripe with the movie, really one of the only things I can justify griping about, not having seen it, is the casting. Now, a couple of the casting choices are 100% spot on, namely Saoirse Ronan as Jo and Meryl Streep as Aunt March.

Ronan is brilliant in her other collaboration with director Greta Gerwig, Lady Bird, and has starred in several other literary adaptations and period pieces (Mary, Queen of Scots; Brooklyn; The Host; Atonement; and she is my dreamcast choice for Lizzy in Pride & Prejudice). I think she’s one of the best actresses working today, and though Winona Ryder will probably always be Jo to me, I think Ronan will be flawless in the role.

And Streep is never not the right choice. As stated on Modern Family, she could play Batman and be the right choice. Also, Laura Dern as Marmee will be great; that’s a perfectly good choice and I have no issues with it.

But let’s look at the casting choices I DO have issues with. The two main ones are Emma Watson as Meg and Timothée Chalamet as Laurie.

Let’s start with the one I only have kind of an issue with. I really want Emma Watson to find roles that are right for her. I’m not a Harry Potter fan myself, but I know a lot of fans will always think of her as Hermione, and that’s a bit of a double-edged sword. And I think the fact that she played this iconic role so young and for so long is still kind of haunting her in a way; she hasn’t quite broken out of that character’s shadow yet.

A lot of people also loved her as Belle in the 2017 Beauty and the Beast; I was not one of them. I think she’s a great actress and I like her, but she just wasn’t Belle for me. (My pick for Belle, if anyone is interested, would have been Lily Collins; she has the perfect look and the singing chops.)

Watson is also not Meg March to me, though it’s hard to explain why. It’s not that she’s not American; Saoirse Ronan is Irish, and I think she’ll be great. And I’m sure Watson will do just fine as Meg as well, but it’s just not quite right and I can’t really put my finger on it. (If you want to see Emma Watson in a role I DO think was right for her, watch The Perks of Being a Wallflower. Or The Circle, which was honestly kind of a mess, but she was great in it.)

So who would I have cast instead? That’s tough. We could go with an unknown, but I think either Dakota Fanning or Margot Robbie would have been great; both have done their share of period films, and either of them could play Saoirse Ronan’s sister easily. (Robbie already played her cousin in Mary, Queen of Scots!)

 

Okay. Now for the real tea. I am really, really not on board with the choice to cast Timothée Chalamet as Theodore Laurence, a.k.a. Laurie. This just does not make sense to me. It could be because I’ve only seen him in one other movie, Lady Bird, in which he played an insufferable teenage boy.

To be fair, Laurie starts out as kind of an insufferable teenage boy, but one with a good heart who eventually grows up into a genuinely good guy. What’s great about Christian Bale’s performance in the 1994 adaptation is that he’s believable as the mischievous boy at the beginning of the story, but he’s also believable as the slightly sobered but still good-humored adult Laurie. Sure, Chalamet was nominated for an Oscar, but I’m not convinced he can do that.

And I almost hate to admit this, but I don’t think he has the right “look.” The look is important. All four of the March sisters fall at least a smidge in love with Laurie, in a teenage crush kind of way, so we have to believe that. I don’t know, maybe lots of teenage girls do have a crush on Timothée Chalamet, and I’m just not in the loop because I’m old. But I just don’t see it.

But you know who I COULD see as Laurie? He might be a little old now, but Liam Hemsworth. I’ve always thought Gale Hawthorne is who Laurie might have become if he’d had to fight in the Civil War. (Not really, I just thought of that, but it sounds good, right?) And you know what? I don’t think he is too old. He’s 29 now, and so is Emma Watson, and she’s playing Meg, so it would be fine.

 

Also, since we got a movie of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, shouldn’t this Little Women film be an adaptation of Little Women and Werewolves? Or maybe it is, and no one will know until halfway through the movie when Laurie starts chewing on the furniture.

Have you seen the trailer yet? What are your thoughts? Are you excited, or do you have misgivings, like me? Who would have been your dream cast?


Note: I’m thinking about making “I Am Not On Board” a regular series (kind of like “My Seven Top Five”), in which I write about my strong negative opinions on various bookish and book-related topics. What do you think, too negative? Am I just looking for reasons to be displeased if I do this? Let me know what you think!

8 thoughts on “I Am Not On Board With Greta Gerwig’s “Little Women”

    1. Thanks for your thoughts! I feel like I used to love everything with a deep and unending devotion, but as I’ve gotten older and my tastes have gotten more discerning, I am finding that I am not on board with a lot of things, lol!

      Liked by 1 person

  1. I absolutely agree with your casting qualms! Little Women is one of my favorites stories of all time. I love the ‘94 version most of all, but the recent PBS miniseries was wonderful as well. This one has some amazing casting choices (on board completely with the ones you mentioned… Streep is the PERFECT Aunt March), but some suspect ones.
    I thought the exact same thing about Emma Watson as Meg. Meg is my favorite character, Emma (while amazing) is not the wholesome and believably sweet choice I would have made. I don’t buy that her ambitions are family oriented like Meg’s are, she is just not a congruent choice.
    Anywho, I will definitely watch the film and hope that despite the casting problems, it will be enjoyable!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m definitely still going to see it, but whoever I go with will have to be prepared for some strong opinions! I think you’re 100% right about Emma Watson. I couldn’t really figure out why I didn’t think she was the right choice, but that totally makes sense. She actually would have been great as Jo.

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  2. Precisely! Couldn’t have said it better Megan. Emma tends to play roles like Jo – forward thinking women – and is very outspoken in her real life as well, so that makes her seem like a bad choice for sweet, family-oriented Meg. Still, that’s not to say that she can’t do well in other kinds of roles, so I’m keeping and open mind and am curious to see her performance.

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  3. Actually Chalamet is a sex symbol so that aspect of the casting makes sense. Bale is still Laurie to me though and I do admit that Chalamet didn’t do it for me in the trailer besides the moment he was playfully dancing with Jo. I’m hoping he’ll do a great job though; he is quite talented. I’m way more frustrated by Watson as Meg. I don’t buy it at all so far, terrible choice. I feel like it’s a waste of her talent. I also have major issues with the inaccurate costuming. I’m definitely seeing it opening weekend because it’s LW and my mom’s hella hype about but I’m worried it’s not going to be the great film that we want it to be.

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  4. Okay, so you have issues with Emma Watson as Meg. Fine. I have too, and I don’t know why either. (She just doesn’t seem like the sensible-but-pretty-big.sister type I guess). And you have issues with Timothee Chalamet as Laurie, even though you’ve only seen him in *one* other movie, in which he even played a similar character, and yes, lots of teens have crush on him. Fine. It doesn’t get me ranting.
    But Liam Hemsworth??? That woke me up, I can tell you that 🙂
    Look LIAM. HEMSWORTH. CANNOT. ACT. His brother Chris can, but Liam can’t. Not only was he completely and utterly miscast as Gale Hawthorne. He’s wooden in most movies. He has looks, but very little charisma (again compare to Chris), and definitely no acting ability.
    I’d like someone who can act as Laurie, thank you. Change from movie to movie and all that. Making the emotions seem real. Not that he can’t look nice, but, you know.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. LOL! OK, that is a fair point. I honestly did not put very much thought into that choice. I just didn’t want to bring up my gripe without offering a solution. It seems to me that there is a dearth of young (like, mid-20s and younger) actors who I think look the part of a romantic lead (and again, that could be because I’m 30 now and just don’t see what teenage girls see) and can also act well. Since I wrote this post I’ve actually thought about it again several times and I just don’t know who I would be OK with playing Laurie. Definitely seeing the movie still.

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