Duration 135 minutes
liked It 99204 Vote
In the years after the Civil War, Jo March (Saoirse Ronan) lives in New York City and makes her living as a writer, while her sister Amy March (Florence Pugh) studies painting in Paris. Amy has a chance encounter with Theodore "Laurie" Laurence (Timothée Chalamet), a childhood crush who proposed to Jo, but was ultimately rejected. Their oldest sibling, Meg March (Emma Watson), is married to a schoolteacher, while shy sister Beth (Eliza Scanlen) develops a devastating illness that brings the family back together
user ratings 8,2 / 10
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The literary critics who know these things say that “Little Women” the novel (1868) broke new ground in giving women and especially young women an entirely new set of role models to read about that went beyond the conventional domestic ones. What better way to show that than to follow the stories of four sisters who all follow very different arcs and yet love each other intensely. It’s been given several movie and TV renditions already, so what more is left to do?
The answer is here in Greta Gerwig’s new film. It’s “adapted” from the book but the differences are fairly small, as far as I can tell. It’s a masterpiece. The thing that struck me most was the beautiful, seamless flow of the storytelling. Rather than telling the story in a linear way, it steps back and forth in time over the critical 7-year period when Jo, Amy, Meg, and Beth are growing from girls into women and meeting their various, very different paths in life. It’s never rushed but there’s not a wasted minute either. It’s all backed by wonderful period scenery in Concord, Massachusetts, and meticulously recreated settings: the housing, clothing, transportation, conversations, all spring to life so thoroughly and yet without calling attention to themselves.
And the cast: Saoirse Ronan (Jo. the surrogate for author Louisa May Alcott) is outstanding. Emma Watson (Meg, the oldest) is outstanding. Florence Pugh (Amy) is outstanding. Although Jo is the heart and center of the story, all three of them have major scenes that give us insights into the different difficulties faced by young women 150 years ago. Eliza Scanlen (Beth) has a bit less to do, but she’s very affecting as well. Representing the older generation, the great Laura Dern (Marmee) and Chris Cooper (Mr. Laurence) are beyond outstanding. They disappear so completely into their character roles that we are not even aware that they are acting. These two are among the top screen actors we have but (IMO) are terribly underused. (NB: when Dern and Ronan are together they uncannily look like mother and daughter.) Add in of course Meryl Streep (the rich, imposing Aunt March) and Bob Odenkirk (Father) and we have a top-drawer cast from end to end. For the ongoing love interest, Timothee Chalamet plays Laurie, who’s consistently very interesting as he comes in and out of the plot but is ultimately somewhat elusive: who is, he, really? We are left not quite knowing.
I give this 10/10 not just because it’s all well done, but essentially because I can’t think of any way it could have been better. Previous knowledge of the book will help, but the movie stands as a work of art on its own.
Little Women is a masterful achievement by Greta Gerwig and her powerhouse troupe of actors. It could be nominated for any number of Oscars, from directing to acting to set design to costuming to scripting, and I expect it will be. It’s an absolutely complete and absorbing piece of cinema.
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Easily the best picture of the year. Charming, warm and beautiful with great humor and lovely effortless performances. Director Greta Gerwig is what Sofia Coppola should have been.
Though I havent seen any of the previous incarnations of the Louis May Alcott book, this blindsided me as to how a throwback film should have been.
A lot could be said about this being “woke” or that it rewrites a bit to fit 2019 sensibilities, but I suspect it’s always been there to mine. It’s heartbreaking at many points and proves cinema is alive! Since there is no one being thrown through drywall or being punched into space, it’s an incredible feat with emotions alone. By the address this in the film. why would anyone read or watch a story ” Because we are dynamic. We suffer, we lose, we laugh and live. And with the energic performances of all the want to hug them all. A work of art.
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