When I screened Mistress America a few years back, I knew Greta Gerwig’s star would ascend sooner than later. Turns out I was right. Adapting and directing Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women, Gerwig has made a fresh, relevant timeless classic accessible for a whole new generation of young women once again being inspired by the March Women led by Saoirse Ronan.
I’m not gonna lie, when I got wind there was going to be yet ‘another’ revival of Alcott’s classic tale, I was not enthused. It’s just that we’ve had ALOT of ‘Little Women’ films (1933, 1949 and 1994), TV adaptations (various BBC entries, a 1978 TV miniseries, etc.) and two silent movies. However, when I learned that Lady Bird’s Greta Gerwig was attached there was not doubt the results would be unprecedented with an all-star cast.
When we first meet Jo (Saoirse Ronan), she is an independent author in New York forced to dumb down her stories in order to appease an incredible sexist 1860’s male dominated publishing world. Eventually, Jo becomes a savvy business woman ostentatiously brokering her own publishing deal without needing assistance from the other gender. Ronan’s Jo is fierce, inspirational, strong-willed and hides her romanticism behind her career driven aura.
One of the most touching moments in the film is when Joe finally realizes that she really is in love with Laurie (Timothee Chalamet) only to discover it’s too late. It harkens back to that classic Billy Dee line from Mahogany when he says “…success it nothing without someone you love to share it with.”
As spectacular as Ronan is, her performance is only complimented by the angst lovelorn Timothee Chalamet (Laurie), the preciously scheming Florence Pugh as Amy March and the spot on comedic timing of the legendary Meryl Streep. Chris Cooper will melt your heart as the warm and generous Mr. Laurence, the wealthy neighbor whose loss of his own daughter takes delight in Beth (Eliza Scanlen) as if she were his own. The heartbreakingly warm scenes watching Laurence listening to her piano playing fill up then empty mansion with beautiful tones from afar will bring tears to your eyes.
What I love most about this film is that it illustrates the tenacity of women when they support and love each other unconditionally. At the same time, conveys what can occur when women are quick to judge in spite of themselves. Cinematographer Yorick Le Saux has created a gorgeous landscape for the March women to thrive in and around, which is only complimented by a score composed by Alexandre Desplat. Let’s not forget to give props to casting directors extraordinaire Francine Maisler and Kathy Driscoll.
Little Women is exquisitely done and blazes brightly on all cylinders. Produced by Columbia Pictures, it swings into theaters Christmas Day.