Released: December 25, 2019. Directed by: Greta Gerwig
It should be said from the beginning that I have not read the book this is based on. Going into this I was blind and had almost no expectations. Keyword being “almost” for I had only expected a well told story of sisterly love and some hardship. My expectations were nearly correct, Little Women is about a household of sisters and their loving mother going through hard times in a pre-civil war era. What I didn’t expect was a phenomenally told tale with exceptional acting from every member of the cast and superb pacing. Little Women takes a while to grow on you, but once it does you are enthralled by it’s characters and easy to follow narrative.
The highlight of this film is it’s cast. Sisters Jo (Saoirse Ronan), Meg (Emma Watson), Amy (Florence Pugh) and Beth (Eliza Scanlan) live with their incredibly loving and caring mother Marmee (Laura Dern) while their father fights in the war. The raw chemistry between every single actor is the glue that holds this movie together, never for a second do you question how much they love each other. The supporting cast also gives excellent performances. Laurie (Timothee Chalamet) is a childhood friend who goes through so much growth as an individual and while he may falter in trying to be a perfect friend to them all by his feelings; he is always there for each of the family no matter what. Every member of the cast brings their best and the film shines with it.
Little Women also uses non-linear pacing to tell its story, something I originally didn’t think could work till after the first act. Different chapters of each of their lives play out in what seems to be random fashion, that is until all the pieces fall in place. By around the half hour mark I started to realize that the film had been subtly been hinting at the change in time throughout the film. In one scene a character comments on a ring, saying it’s importance by who gave it to them. Later in the film you see how they acquired the ring, reminding you from before and how the previous scene was necessary to telling this later interaction, although it had taken place years in the future. It happens throughout, once I caught on I was hooked. This is a masterful way to tell a story, taking the film from a literature piece to a film that uses the visual medium in vibrant fashion.
Speaking of vibrant visuals, the costume work is exquisite. And necessary to the plot. The girls recognize the importance of high fashion in the world and wear elegant dresses, at times told that you don’t need expensive clothes to be beautiful. Pearl white gowns glow against spring grass, or muted browns and greys pop when snow lines the ground. Every frame is adorned with gorgeous outfits, something I didn’t see from many films in 2019.
Little Women was a surprise for me. I know it is based on a book and there is a 1994 movie based on the same book, so seeing there was a new movie didn’t register on my “to see” list. However, I was a fool to have passed this up when it came out. Amazing cast from every corner, incredible visuals and a surprisingly well paced story make this one of the years best and I encourage everyone to give it a watch.