“Little Women” stars Saoirse Ronan, Emma Watson, Florence Pugh, Eliza Scanlen, Timothée Chalamet, Laura Dern, Meryl Streep, and Bob Odenkirk. Released on December 25, 2019, the film chronicles the lives of the March sisters in 1860s New England.
The film is written and directed by Greta Gerwig, who is known for directing “Lady Bird”, and it is based on the 1868 novel of the same name by Louisa May Alcott. I didn’t expect myself to see something as ladylike as this film, but here we are. After making a remarkable first impression with “Lady Bird” two years ago, Greta Gerwig is getting ready to head back to the Oscars with her own version of the beloved novel. The novel, which tells the tale of four sisters, has been popularly known for delighting many readers with its timeless story about sisterhood for many years. In fact, it’s so popular that Hollywood decided to make seven (that’s right, seven) film adaptations of the novel, including the 1994 version which starred Winona Ryder and the 2018 adaptation that no one wants to remember for some reason. I have not watched any of the film versions of “Little Women” nor read the book it’s based on, so this will be my first experience with the source material. I was a little concerned that a film like this may not be to my liking, but after watching it for myself, I was pleasantly surprised at how good it was.
Much like the book and the other film versions that came before it, the story centers on four March sisters: Jo (Ronan), Meg (Watson), Amy (Pugh), and Beth (Scanlen). It showcases their lives and their sisterly bond from their childhood to their adulthood. From what I read about the film, the only difference that this adaptation made was its narrative structure. Instead of having a linear narrative where we see the characters grow up from beginning to end, the film went down a non-linear path by placing its main focus on the main characters as adults and using flashbacks to showcase them as teens. It does sound confusing at first given the fact that the main actresses portrayed the same characters in different timelines, but it’s actually not. I honestly liked the direction they took for its narrative because it helped maintain the flow of the pacing, even though there were a couple of scenes that dragged just a little bit. It also gave me clear notifications on which scene is the flashback scene by displaying the color palettes in the background. If it has a golden yellowish color, it’s a flashback scene. If it has a light bluish color, then the scene takes place in the present. I thought it was pretty cool that they did that in order to avoid confusion. As for the story itself, I can definitely see why people enjoyed the source material so much. It had the right amount of charm and emotion to display its miraculous theme about sisterhood in a natural and serene light. It’s not too overly sentimental and it’s not too safe either despite its PG rating. In terms of the direction and the screenplay, Greta Gerwig has crafted a wonderful and well-written period drama that earned the happiness and the sadness. Part of that is due to the chemistry between the four main actresses and its tone. Ronan, Watson, Pugh, and Scanlen were what made the film shine the brightest as they portrayed the fictional March sisters like they are actual sisters in real life. These four actresses absolutely nailed their roles in both the uplifting scenes and the dramatic scenes. Laura Dern and Timothée Chalamet also did really well with their performances as Marmee March and Theodore Laurence respectively. The film also benefitted from its remarkable production design, the costumes, and its stellar score by Alexandre Desplat. The former two fit really well with the film’s time period, and the music has a suitable beat that captures the beauty of its scenes.
Overall, the seventh film adaptation of “Little Women” delivers just about everything that I wanted out of a film about sisterhood without losing the heart and soul of the source material in the process. I didn’t really expect myself to love it that much at first, but this film managed to prove otherwise. With its lovable cast, Gerwig’s direction and screenplay, and Alexandre Desplat’s whimsical score, the film celebrates the unbreakable bond between sisters with passion and brilliance. If you’re familiar with the novel it’s based on, then this film is worth a watch.