Coming off the tails of her critically acclaimed coming-of-age story Lady Bird, Greta Gerwig returns with her newest film — The seventh, or eight, or sixth adaptation of Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women (hooray?). To be honest, I rolled my eyes when I heard there was another Little Women adaptation. Nothing against the source material, but much like A Star Is Born, it’s the same story being remade over and over and over again. While the story was never my sort of tea growing up, when I heard that this movie was going to be handled by Gerwig, I was intrigued. Would she do something different, or would it be more of the same? The movie was getting all sorts of praise, and I had no idea how to interpret it. So I brought an expert- my mom, who has seen most of the movie versions and read the book- to watch it with me.
And you know what? It’s just as good as everyone said it was.
Little Women is incredible, probably the best adaptation of this story… at least according to my mom and the several elderly women with whom I saw the film. It’s layered so deeply, like a wedding cake from Georgia. Themes of loneliness, defiance, sisterhood, and regret are shown so beautifully in this tale of four sisters- Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy- during the late 19th century. And when I say beautiful, I do mean it in a literal sense. Everything presented to us is visually stunning — whether it be the cinematography (which was shot on actual film, another plus), the sets, the dresses, the make-up, the hairstyling, and overall just everything else.
Even the actors and actresses are visually stunning. Once again, Timothee Chalamet and Saoirse Ronan prove that their chemistry together is nothing short of pure magic. Every time these two are on screen as Jo and Laurie, they bounce off each other like a rubber ball. It really is a pleasure to see and witness them in action. Gerwig really has something special here and she knows it, as the scenes with the both of them never feel acted. Instead, they feel like real people in that time just having fun… for the most part.
Everyone else is absolutely breathtaking in their roles. Meryl Streep is… well Meryl Streep, so we all know she is going to be good regardless. Laura Dern is spectacular. Emma Watson is great. Chris Cooper is great. But the movie’s biggest surprises come from Florence Pugh as Amy and Eliza Scanlen as Beth. These two really bring it here and I found myself really bonding to them and their stories. With the exception of Saoirse and Timothee, the two best performances really came from Scanlen and Pugh. But what always worked perfectly was when Amy, Meg, Jo, and Beth were on screen together. It was pure magic and I loved it.
I love this movie, loved loved loved it. I tried not going into it to find some dumb nitpicks, but I found dumb nitpicks. They don’t affect the movie’s overall score, but they’re sort of hard not to address.
The movie does follow the book, but not in chronological order, according to my mom. This shift in nonlinear pacing and editing can make for some confusing moments for those who have seen previous adaptations and read the book. I found that the movie moved too fast at some parts but it still benefitted the narrative which, if told chronologically, would have gotten repetitive and boring very quickly. This choice kept me engaged and focused. Another problem, and honestly a personal issue at best, was the mid-way reveal of the girl’s father. The father is primarily absent from a majority of the movie due to his service in the Union army and, when he finally shows up, I found myself kind of shocked and distracted at the casting choice they made: Better Call Saul‘s Bob Odenkirk. It was distracting, but I got used to it eventually.
Overall, Greta Gerwig did a perfect job with this movie. She really did, and it’s a damn shame she wasn’t nominated for the Golden Globes. Her directing is impressive, the script is sharp and as a piece of entertainment it’s downright incredible. Hopefully the Oscars may show Gerwig more love and favor when they announce the nominations.
Verdict: 5 out of 5 Stars
Little Women is great. Better than great, it’s spectacular, a damn near perfect movie. There are a few nitpicks that linger, and two moments where the acting is a bit on awkward side — mainly due to certain actresses from the England and Ireland trying to sound like Americans. Yeah, Emma Watson and Saoirse Ronan have their accents slip in some scenes, but nobody’s perfect. And really, who cares about those nitpicks? They’re excuses for trying to find the bad in a spectacular movie, and that’s what this is — a spectacular movie.
I think so and my mom thinks so too.