Little Women

Little Women ★★★★

2019 Ranked
Seen in Theaters

Published in 1868, Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women tells the story of four sisters and their family during and after the Civil War. It has left an indelible mark on both literature and film with a litany of film and television adaptations over the years. Many directors have taken a crack at telling Alcott’s story from George Cukor to Mervyn LeRoy to Gillian Armstrong. Now, it is Greta Gerwig’s turn. Following up her original and personal Lady Bird with an adaptation of Alcott’s work is a perfect transition that yields great results. Little Women, as in the source, follows the events in the lives of the March family - Jo (Saoirse Ronan), Meg (Emma Watson), Amy (Florence Pugh), Beth (Eliza Scanlen), Marmee (Laura Dern), and Father (Bob Odenkirk) - as well as their interactions with the nearby (and wealthy) Laurence family, led by Theodore “Laurie” Laurence (Timothée Chalamet) and his grandfather (Chris Cooper). Funny, moving, and wonderfully directed, Little Women is another triumph from Gerwig in her young directing career.

Lady Bird stood out in how it examined the world around its titular character. Her relationship with her mother being central to that, as well as her friendships at school and romantic entanglements. Little Women is much of the same, but rather than a single character, it follows the whole family. The results are not diminished at all with Gerwig’s empathetic and understanding approach to character yielding great results. The flaws of all of the women are on display alongside their strengths. Yet, no matter how much they drive one another crazy, they are always there together. Whether it is for Christmas to laugh and celebrate or at a funeral where their faces flood with tears, the March family is there for another. The flaws of each individual manifests in flaws in their relationships with one another, but their togetherness is never shattered. Jo can go from being incessantly mad at Amy to sitting up all night by her bedside, while their competing (or vastly different) dreams may threaten to create schisms between them. They are a family above all else and no matter how long they are apart, they will be together again. It is no mistake, then, that Little Women is at its most joyous when all of the family is together. A scene of Laurie simply standing there and basking in the loud chaos of the March home typify this with he and many others from around town drawn into the aura of the March girls. Whether in the past or present, the warmth and joy presented on screen is infectious with off-hand remarks and inside jokes resonating so well thanks to the cultivation of these familial bonds throughout Little Women.

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