Support Frock Flicks with a small donation! During Snark Week and beyond, we’re grateful for your small, one-time contributions via PayPal or monthly pledges for exclusive content via Patreon to offset the costs of running this site. You can even buy our T-shirts and swag. Think of this like supporting public broadcasting, but with tons of swearing and no tax deductions!
We’ll have a longer review of the newest feature film version of Little Women (2019) soon, but in the meantime, I’ve got something I need to get off my chest: THE HAIR. Specifically, THE BANGS. Even more specifically: LAURA DERN’S 1980S MOM HAIR. WHAAAAAAATTTT THE FUUUUUUCKKKKK?
Little Women is based on the novel by Louisa May Alcott. This version was directed by Greta Gerwig and stars Saorsie Ronan as Jo, Emma Watson as Meg, Laura Dern as Marmee, and Meryl Streep as Aunt March. There were some things I liked about the film (I was okay with the flashback/flash forward, although the people I saw it with, who weren’t Little Women buffs, found it confusing; I also found the ending interesting, although not quite as revolutionary as reviewers seem to think) and things that bugged me (the sad lack of hats/bonnets). But y’all know me — nothing bugged me more than THE HAIR.
In general, you’d expect me to be bugged by the beachy waves and stray tendrils waving in the breeze. And I was:
But the bangs, people. THE BANGS. I’ve ranted about them before, and I’m going to rant about them again.
Sure, the filmmakers went with the time-honored and totally-tired technique of giving actress Florence Pugh as Amy chunky, straight-across bangs to make her look “young” when she’s playing younger Amy:
Okay, so short “bangs” or “fringe” as a part of women’s hairstyles WAS fashionable in the LATE 1860s. Maybe Amy is psychic and anticipates the fashion trends of five years out? Yes yes she’s “young,” although a review of the fabulous collection of real average people (in this case Canadians) in the Notman Photographic Archive at the McCord Museum shows absolutely zip in terms of young girls wearing any kind of bangs:
But, you know, I found this example of a girl from 1868 (three years AFTER the Civil War, but whatever) with Amy-style bangs. So I don’t like it, but I’m allowing it.
What REALLY got on my nerves was Emma Watson as Meg with her side part and side-swept bangs:
But what ABSOLUTELY KILLED ME was Laura Dern as Marmee with her side part and waved bangs. First, Laura Dern was no Marmee (when she said “Just call me Mother, or Marmee. Everyone does!” I threw up in my mouth a little). Secondly, THIS IS SUCH A MODERN MOM HAIRSTYLE I CAN’T EVEN IN WHAT WORLD IS THIS 1860S OH MY GOD I MAY NEED TO BITE SOMETHING HARD
UNLESS MARMEE JUST CUT HER HAIR FOR CHARITY THERE WOULD BE NO REASON FOR HER TO HAVE SHORT LAYERED SIDE-PARTED PIECES. Can you imagine JUST HOW ANNOYING it would be to try to style that Laura Dern hair into something like this?
And, fun times, all of this was ON PURPOSE, naturally. Hair department head Fríða Aradóttir (Water for Elephants, Iron-Jawed Angels, Dirty Dancing) has been quoted in a number of publications as saying:
“[Director] Greta [Gerwig], early on in our conversations, suggested that this family and these girls and women were possibly the original hippies. The hair was always meant to be a little less structured than you see in a lot of period movies. I find that more relatable than coiffures, which are so distinct and untouchable” (The Hair and Makeup in Little Women).
I could accept this interpretation — the March family as hippies — except for the fact that there are ACTUAL EXAMPLES OF HIPPY EQUIVALENTS FROM THE 19TH CENTURY THAT YOU COULD HAVE USED FOR INSPIRATION, and their hair looks NOTHING LIKE 1980S MOM HAIR:
So to Fríða Aradóttir, Greta Gerwig, and anyone else involved in the choices behind Emma Watson and Laura Dern’s hair in Little Women, I say:
Need to bitch about the new Little Women? The comments (and we) are here for you!