Little Women is a marvelous film, written and directed by Greta Gerwig (2017's Lady Bird). The acting, writing, and costume designs were all perfection. This accomplishment comes from Gerwig’s vivid direction on the retelling of its classic source material.
Actors Saoirse Ronan, Emma Watson, Florence Pugh, Eliza Scanlen, Laura Dern, Timothèe Chalamet, and Meryl Streep were all exquisite on screen together. Plus, the beautiful cinematography deepens the film’s timelessness. Little Women is one of the best films of the year and will be in my Top Five for 2019. This sensitive retelling of a timeless classic is one for the books. Gerwig's beautiful vision is accompanied by her talented cast of actors, who all work seamlessly to tell an old story in a brand new way. On top of that, we are paired with the lushest cinematography and a weaving storyline of past and present. The genius of Gerwig is seen on a larger scale inside Little Women. An absolutely lovely film in the highest orders — Little Women is the very embodiment of novel and film blended together, rewarding our viewers with an enriching experience. Our coming-of-age story follows the four young March sisters — Jo (a fierce Saoirse Ronan), Meg (a warming Emma Watson), Amy (a lively Florence Pugh), and Beth March (a wholesome Eliza Scanlen). In the film and book, Jo reflects back and forth on her life, telling the beloved sister's story of how they were determined to live it on their own terms.
In the film, Gerwig interweaves the story cutting back and forth between the past and present. This embellishes the sister's bond between one another at certain places in their lives. Jo (Ronan) is determined not to be defined by her sex in a man's world. Jo is independent, fierce, and full of life in telling her stories from pen to paper. Ronan received an Oscar nomination for Best Actress. At 25-years-old, Ronan is the 2nd youngest person to receive four Academy Award nominations, behind only Jennifer Lawrence. Meg (Watson) is determined to be happy in starting a family with a man she dearly loves. Meg chooses John Brooke (James Norton), a tutor hired to teach the mischievous Theodore "Laurie" Laurence (a never better Timothèe Chalamet). John struggles to make ends meet financially, but that doesn't stop Meg from marrying him. In the end, Meg knows that she will always be happy with the man she fell in love with. Next, there's Amy (Pugh) — the most complex character of the March sisters. Amy is loud, snarky, and a total blast to watch on screen. In the book and past film adaptions, Amy has gotten a bad rap from Jo fans for 'stealing' Laurie from her. Here, Pugh gives Amy a beating heart full of compassion and gratitude. We see Amy's side of the story better, as she's the one who always loved Laurie ever since she first met him. Jo chose her writing over Laurie and in the end, didn't have the same feelings towards him that Amy always did.
Gerwig and Pugh perfected this perspective, making Amy one of the best and fully developed characters in this film. Pugh received her first Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actress. Pugh, a 24-year-old breakout star, has a bright acting future ahead of her. Lastly, we have Beth (Scanlen) who is the shyest, but musically gifted, sister. Beth expresses herself through music, Joe through writing, Meg through acting, and Amy through painting. In this version, Gerwig paired the events of Meg's wedding and Beth's death back-to-back — showing us how Jo lost two sisters in different ways. Nominated for 6 Oscars, including Best Picture, Best Actress (Ronan), Best Supporting Actress (Pugh), and Best Adapted Screenplay (Gerwig) — Little Women is one of the most superb movies to come out in 2019. Sadly, The Academy snubbed Gerwig from a spot for Best Director. This is a bitter blow to an extraordinary director and it leaves me frustrated. Gerwig deserved that nomination. The Academy is telling Gerwig that her movie was good enough to be nominated, but she (as a director) was not. “Since [Gerwig] started, she has made two perfect films, and I hope when she makes her next perfect movie, she gets recognized for everything because I think she’s one of the most important filmmakers of our time,” Ronan told Deadline.
“I think everybody’s angry, and quite rightly so,” Pugh said. “I can’t believe it’s happened again, but I don’t really know how to solve it. I don’t know what the answer is, other than we’re talking about it.” Unfortunately, this is a typical pattern for The Academy — Since the Oscars first aired in 1929, The Academy has only nominated five women for Best Director. Only Kathryn Bigelow has won, in 2010 for The Hurt Locker. The Academy needs to change and we need to start recognizing female directors for their work. Some of the finest movies to come out in 2019 were directed by female directors — films like The Farewell (Lulu Wang), Portrait of a Lady on Fire (Céline Sciamma), Queen & Slim (Melina Matsoukas), Booksmart (Olivia Wilde), Hustlers (Lorene Scafaria), Honey Boy (Alma Har’el), The Nightingale (Jennifer Kent), Atlantics (Mati Diop), The Souvenir (Joanna Hogg), Clemency (Chinonye Chukwu), High Life (Claire Denis), and A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood (Marielle Heller). In the end, this beautiful film adaption to Louisa May Alcott's classic 1868 novel receives a five-star review from me. Little Women is a enduring tale and Gerwig extends that timeliness we've all fell in love with over the years. What a marvelous movie — vivid, passionate, and powerfully acted. Little Women is here to stay, in our hearts and on film.
Little Women is rated PG (Parental Guidance). For thematic elements and brief smoking.
Directed by Greta Gerwig, AKA a far better director than Todd Phillips (Joker).
Starring an all-star cast — Saoirse Ronan, Emma Watson, Florence Pugh, Eliza Scanlen, Laura Dern, Timothèe Chalamet, and Meryl Streep.
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