Little Women

Little Women ★★★½

Well, this is really the best and most honest film about writing and criticism that I have seen in forever. The absolutely delightful Little Women is Greta Gerwig's newest adaptation of the classic Louisa May Alcott novel and one that succeeds in all of the right areas. I do not have any experience with this story other than the knowledge that it is about a family of sisters but that never deterred me from being excited about this film. I thought that with the wildly talented cast and Gerwig's heartwarming direction that I would have a loving time with this film and I was absolutely right. Whether or not a viewer is actually a fan of the novel or is simply in the theater to support Florence Pugh (guilty as charged), there will be something in this film to satisfy everyone. With some incredible performances and dialogue that will ring true for years to come, this movie is yet another remake that excellently captures the tone of the original novel with a bit more of a modern take.

Jo (Saoirse Ronan), Meg (Emma Watson), Amy (Florence Pugh), and Beth (Eliza Scanlen) March are four sisters growing up in the time period directly after the Civil War. Being raised by their mother Marmee (Laura Dern), the girls must learn to adapt to their changing lives and grow into themselves while navigating their personal passions as women and their love lives, including the likes of the young and dashing Laurie (Timothée Chalamet). Following up on her directorial debut in 2017's Lady Bird, Greta Gerwig returns with the emotional powerhouse of Saiorse Ronan to adapt this classic story into a beautiful, more modern take on this story. While it still has all of the same dynamics and qualities that women in this time period would, I really enjoyed how Gerwig handles telling these characters' stories. Each sister was given plenty of time to develop on her own and their individual love lives and careers were fleshed out so beautifully. I particularly enjoyed the way that Gerwig's script transforms this novel into dialogue that can apply even today. One of the defining parts of this film that has resonated since even the book was released back in 1868 was its shining feminism. Alcott is obviously one of the most revered champions for women back in this time and her timeless message that women are able to be their own people and decide upon their own lives still makes its way through in this film. My only issue with this movie that hurt my experience quite a bit was the pacing and order of the story that Gerwig decided to run with. The original novel contains flashbacks going back and forth between a gap of about seven years and while this film attempts to do the same, it became very distracting for me. There were some gorgeously-designed transitions but I had a very hard time following the timeline. A lot was done in the design of the characters' clothes and in the color correction that helped me out a bit but it took a while into the film until I was really able to delineate between the two different timelines.

Although I might have a bit of an issue with Gerwig's direction, there is no denying that she can handle this emotional and important story with such poise and grace. I could not have seen any other woman filmmaker working today adapt this story as well as she did. This would not have been as powerful, however, if not for the dedicated and absolutely astounding performances from the four sisters. Ronan, Watson, Pugh, and Scanlen all have fantastic chemistry together and their believability as sisters is unmatched. Since each of their respective characters is so well-developed, I loved how they all got their time to shine and flex their acting muscles. Ronan and Pugh give particularly scene-stealing performances and the relationship between their characters was rocky but necessary. They are able to fully express every spark of joy, every bonding moment, and every ounce of sadness extraordinarily well. Dern and Chalamet turn in fantastic supporting roles as expected, but I simply can not get over how fascinating Pugh and Ronan made their characters. Especially with the former, as I have heard from some people how atrocious the character of Amy is in the novel and how much more humane and relatable Pugh was able to embody her. The cinematography and editing were honestly nothing extraordinary throughout this film but what really makes it pop is the production design from Jess Gonchor and costuming by Jacqueline Durran. The dresses and suits fit this time period so accurately and the almost muted colors depending on the type of scene really brought out this story's beauty. The production design of the houses and locations for these characters to interact in was gorgeous and did a fantastic job of showing the different wealth classes of the time, which in turn added to the already fascinating story.

Little Women is a fantastic version of the classic story about the March sisters and who better to handle their coming-of-age stories than Greta Gerwig. I adore the performances in this film, especially from Ronan and Pugh, and even though I had a bit of an issue with the chronology of it all, it is difficult to deny the absolutely wonderful environment that these talented artists build within the world of Louisa May Alcott.

Carson Schilling liked these reviews