Time: 135 Minutes
Saoirse Ronan as Josephine “Jo” March
Emma Watson as Margaret “Meg” March
Florence Pugh as Amy March
Eliza Scanlen as Elizabeth “Beth” March
Laura Dern as Marmee March
Timothée Chalamet as Theodore “Laurie” Laurence
Meryl Streep as Aunt March
Tracy Letts as Mr. Dashwood
Bob Odenkirk as Father March
James Norton as John Brooke
Louis Garrel as Friedrich Bhaer
Chris Cooper as Mr. Laurence
Director: Greta Gerwig
In the years after the Civil War, Jo March (Saoirse Ronan) lives in New York and makes her living as a writer, while her sister Amy (Florence Pugh) studies painting in Paris. Amy has a chance encounter with Theodore (Timothee Chalamet), a childhood crush who proposed to Jo but was ultimately rejected. Their oldest sibling, Meg (Emma Watson), is married to a schoolteacher, while shy sister Beth (Eliza Scanlen) develops a devastating illness that brings the family back together.
I heard quite a bit about Little Women leading up to its release, mainly the people involved with making it, and the awards hype surrounding it. Greta Gerwig’s previous movie (and her debut) was Lady Bird, which I thought was pretty decent. I didn’t read the Little Women book, not have I watched any of the previous adaptations of them, so I really didn’t know what to expect from this most recent version. However I found it to be rather fantastic really, and one of the highlights of 2019.
I can’t comment on how well Little Women does as an adaptation as I’m not familiar with the story. However this movie did such a good job at making me interested in at least checking out the version from the 90s. There are two storylines that the movie cuts between, present day and the past. For some it was jarring and indeed there are moments where it feels that way, however I actually liked how they handled it, the use of parallels worked particularly well. It’s a really heartfelt story as we follow this family through their lives. One thing I had heard going into the movie was that the ending was changed. Knowing the context of the original book and considering the main character throughout the story, I actually liked it, and it made a lot of sense. Although it took a bit for me to get into the story at the start, I didn’t feel like it stretched on for too long, even at 2 hours and 15 minutes. I was invested in what was going on from start to finish. A minor but nonetheless distracting thing is the fact that early in the flashbacks, Florence Pugh’s (who is very clearly an adult) character Amy is supposed to be 13, however for whatever reason they had a scene with her in school with actual 13 year olds. That choice was more than a little distracting, but the scene lasted for less than a minute. Outside of that there aren’t many problems I had with the movie.
The cast on the whole were outstanding. Saoirse Ronan, Florence Pugh, Emma Watson and Eliza Scanlen play the March sisters, and they all work really well, especially with each other. Ronan gives one of her best performances, and Pugh was a standout. Laura Dern does well as the mother of the March sisters, and Timothee Chalamet gives quite possibly my favourite performance from him. The rest of the supporting cast was solid too, with the likes of Meryl Streep, Tracy Letts, Bob Odenkirk Chris Cooper and others really working.
Greta Gerwig directed this movie exceptionally well. It is larger scale compared to Lady Bird, yet manages to make much of this movie feel very personal. I can’t tell how previous versions handled the story, but her version was done in a way where today’s audiences can easily get into it. Everything for the time period works perfectly, from the costumes, to the production design, and more. It’s such a visually stunning movie and looks great, very well shot by Yorick Le Sauz. The score by Alexandre Desplat was quite good and was also fitting for the movie.
Little Women surprised me by in how great it was. Greta Gerwig has directed and written this exceptionally, and the cast all played their parts well. I have seen some people say that this adaptation of the story has the potential to be a future classic, and I can honestly see that happening. Even if you don’t think you’ll like it, I still highly recommend checking it out as soon as you can, it’s one of my favourites of the year.