Contrasting completely to the term in the title of the film, Greta Gerwig’s second feature is an immense achievement. Little Women is bustling with joy, passion, warmth and tenderness. This retelling is of the umpteenth time that the classic novel has been adapted into film, however, revived into a coming-of-age film of a beguiling quality. Re-teaming with two of her Lady Bird stars, we find Gerwig on top-form in writing and direction, as masterful as ever.
Saoirse Ronan is Jo, one of the March sisters. Gerwig gathers up an incredibly impressive surrounding cast; Emma Watson, Florence Pugh, Eliza Scanlen, Timothée Chalamet, Laura Dern and Meryl Streep. There is an infectious energy that simmers vividly, so I wondered what could it be? Looking back on Lady Bird I felt that same, similar energy – in conclusion, it is Greta Gerwig and her wonderfully warm touch. Little Women is a beautiful highlight for everyone; Gerwig, Ronan, Watson, Chalamet, the list goes on.
Following the lives of the four March sisters, Jo (Saoirse Ronan), Amy (Florence Pugh), Beth (Eliza Scanlen) and Meg (Emma Watson), as they come of age in the aftermath of the American Civil War. The March sisters stand by each other through difficult and changing times. Ambitions, passion and love serve for connection and eventual separation as each sister is pulled in opposite directions, they must battle to hold what they know is true… Sisterhood.
There is something so sharp and confident in the film’s execution, a confidence that assures you as a spectator that you are in the hands of a director of fantastic talent. That director being Greta Gerwig. Gerwig paints a beautiful world around the ever-energetic and loving March sisters. She allows for depth in performances by creating such a detailed, well-thought-out environment that they only benefit from one and other. Lady Bird was robbed for its Oscars in 2018, now in 2019 heading into the 2020 Oscars we can only hope Little Women gets its due-service.
With an ensemble this good it’s really hard to pick out favourites. But, Saoirse Ronan delivers a sharp, charming and yet, fierce performance as the relentlessly alive Jo March. Absolutely worthy of all the accolades is also Emma Watson. Watson’s work is thoughtful, touching and full of life. Whilst, Florence Pugh continues her ace year with this role of humongous range. To add one more, Timothée Chalamet fails to steep below his continued excellence, his Laurie is warm, kind and charming. The cast is truly magnificent. I believe its the depth of Gerwig’s writing that allows for the radiating cores of these characters to shine, therefore, allowing for performances of such virtue.
Filmed with such beauty, Yorick Le Saux’s cinematography is a sensation. The camera really feels like a fifth sister, Gerwig cleverly does this to place us into the lives of the characters. It works so well. The March sisters’ past and present feel one in the same, in that we are completely absorbed into their present and memories. Gerwig’s structure is sharp and cleverly put together. Each moment adds weight, adding meaning to each fragment bit by bit, that’s a testament to the genius of the writer/director.
Little Women is a masterful piece of filmmaking. Excellence is fired on all cylinders. Greta Gerwig is an unstoppable force. The experience is full of mood, tone and chemistry, these connections prove Gerwig to be a filmmaker of full control. Additionally, the entire cast is pitch-perfect. If I were to single out my picks, it’d be; Saoirse Ronan, Emma Watson, Florence Pugh and Timothée Chalamet, if I had too… But, nevertheless every performance is deserving of absolute praise.
5/5 Stars ★★★★★