Yeah, this movie’s great. It’s faithful to the novel, except it unfolds non-chronologically, which works to its advantage. For one, it makes it a bit more dynamic and interesting than a retelling of the novel. For another, it allows it to handle Jo/Laurie much better than the ‘90s adaptation (which I remember liking). It’s very clear throughout, as it was in the book per my recollection, that Jo sees Laurie as merely a friend whereas the ‘90s adaptation seemed more interested in having them build a kind of will-they-or-won’t-they romantic tension. Further, it also makes Amy a much more likeable character. In fact, with the caveat I haven’t read the book in at least fifteen years (maybe closer to 20), it handles Amy better than Alcott did. The casting is excellent too. I hate to keep comparing it the ‘90s one, but Ronan is a way better Jo than Winona Ryder (and I like Ryder). She could have played Jo as Ladybird-but-in-the-1800s, but she doesn’t. She’s very much Jo, just a more believable one than previously seen on screen. Everyone else is great too, especially Chalamet who seems lab-designed to play boys like Laurie.
The only thing that did not quite work for me was it lamp shading the rather abrupt marriage of Jo and Professor Bhaer as something forced upon Jo/Alcott by a publisher (which is true if I’m not mistaken). The movie sort of tries to have it both ways: the publisher demanding Jo maker her protagonist marry, having Jo comment on how ridiculous it is, before acquiescing and going through with it. I think Bhaer is a better romantic match for Jo than Laurie ever could be, but it did not quite work well in the book either and the fact this movie flirts with the idea of having Jo never marry to mirror Alcott, then pull away from it, is a bit of narrative whiplash for me. It’s a rather minor thing, though. Overall, it’s an excellent adaptation.
Oh, and re: men not liking it. I think the world would be a better place if teenage boys would read and internalize Little Women. It could teach them important lessons like ‘just because a girl’s nice to you does not mean she’s in love with you’ that tons of men seem to struggle to grasp well into adulthood and become toxic assholes as a result.