Blake Ison’s review published on Letterboxd:
"I'd rather be a free spinster and paddle my own canoe. I can't believe childhood is over."
"It was going to end one way or another. And what a happy end."
A retelling of Louisa May Alcott's novel of the same name, Little Women tells the story of the March sisters, each determined to live life on their own terms. Jo reflects back & forth on her life living with her sisters; Meg, Amy & Beth, and their journey growing from little girls to little women. This is a film all about growing up; the good parts, and the bad. It is a film about loss, gain and how we lead our lives. It's about following your dreams, it's about staying true to yourself and, most importantly, it's about family.
We are barely a week into 2020 & Little Women has already come along and stolen my heart. I simply adore this film with my entire being. Greta Gerwig, off the back of her success with Lady Bird, has come along a crafted a modern masterpiece. Everything about this film works, and to its full potential. Gerwig has taken this timeless story and turned it into a spectacular film, full of warmth & comfort. She directs the film with such an energy that gives it a modern feel, while staying true to the novels original ideas & themes. The way it is written feels completely fresh, while remaining incredibly traditional, keeping a lot of the dialogue accurate to the time period without becoming encumbering or distracting. Simply put, the film is totally engrossing. Right off the bat I was drawn into the story this film wanted to tell and not once was I pulled out of it.
Gerwig takes a unique and risky direction with the film, constantly hopping back and forth between time, which gives the film its own, energetic personality (as mentioned earlier). This makes for some of the most emotional story telling I have seen in a long time. Many scenes will hop between time in order to pack more weight in its punch. As I said, this was a rather risky move as it may have resulted in the film feeling disjointed or confusing, but the way Gerwig executes it lands every single time, without fail. This is a testament to both the superb screenplay & the impeccable editing. Risks like this need to be taken more often, and I cannot praise Gerwig enough for having the courage to direct the film in this way.
Paired with the superb story telling & direction is a cast fit perfectly for each and every role. From Laura Dern as Marmee March, the mother, to Emma Watson & Florence Pugh as Meg & Amy, everyone in this film is on the top of their game and knocks every scene they are in out of the park. The real standout however, are Saoirse Ronan as Jo March, Eliza Scanlen as Beth March & Timothée Chalamet as Theodore Laurence. These three performances own my heart. Every scene they were in was totally lit up by their presence and every word that came out of their mouths carried so much weight. This film is packed with superb performances all around, it seriously blows my mind.
Little Women also is one of the most gorgeous looking films of the last few years. Gerwig's vision matched with Yorick Le Saux's beautiful cinematography, the film is full of superb visuals. Accompany this with the amazing production & costume design, the film never once loses you in its beautiful time period.
All of this wouldn't be complete without a score and, surprise surprise, Little Women has one of the most gorgeous scores I have ever heard. Alexandre Desplat's beautiful score accompanies the films story & visuals perfectly. Feeling very traditional, the films score constantly got to my heart in ways not many scores do. Combine this with the heartfelt story, pitch perfect performances & top notch writing and I was a ball of tears multiple times throughout.
Little Women is an incredible follow up film for Greta Gerwig and is easily one of my favourites of the last few years. The intricacies and details of the film are handled with such perfection and every decision made sticks its landing. Full of superb performances, a stellar screenplay and a heartwarming score, Little Women is a film that wrapped me up in a comforting hug and never let go. It is a film that I will always cherish and just may be at the top of my list for the coming year.