Little Women is a big success for Greta Gerwig

Courtesy of Sony Pictures
Saoirse Ronan, pictured with Timothée Chalamet, was nominated for the Golden Globe for Best Actress in a Motion Picture — Drama.

Colleen Hammond | Opinions Editor

01/09/20

To the delight of audiences, the dynamic duo of Greta Gerwig and Saoirse Ronan reunite for another show-stopping, female-centered film in the new adaptation of Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women.

After their directing and leading lady debuts, respectively, in Ladybird, Gerwig and Ronan revived their partnership to bring a fresh perspective to a timeless classic.

Set in New England in the 1860s, Little Women follows the lives of four sisters and their journeys of survival, sisterhood, artistic dreams and love. Even in the face of unimaginable tragedy, personal loss and an often sexist society, these sisters find a way to preserve their familial bonds while pursuing their individual desires.

Although the general plot may seem like a lagging historical drama or belabored chick flick, the magnificent performances of this star-studded cast and Gerwig’s engaging dialogue keep the audience invested and entertained for the entirety of this nearly two and a half hour film.

Despite its length, the story never feels overly extended. Each actor draws the audience into the inner life of their character, making the time in the theater fly by.

The chemistry among this cast is undeniable. Timothée Chalamet shines as the sisters’ wealthy neighbor and childhood playmate, Laurie. His boyish charm pairs beautifully with Ronan’s electric, feminine defiance. The two balance each other out perfectly and bring a remarkable sense of youth to the roles, while still managing to honor the original literary characters.

Another stand out performance comes from Hollywood newcomer, Florence Pugh. In this film, Pugh manages to expertly embody Amy March, the youngest and most materialistic of the sisters. Pugh crafts incredible growth in Amy over the film’s seven-year time frame. She raises Amy from a bratty and jealous adolescent to a mature, dignified woman without betraying the character. Her astounding acting chops steal the show.

In addition to Pugh’s brilliant debut, another fabulous performance comes from film veteran Meryl Streep. Although audiences have come to expect perfection from the star, Streep somehow manages to surprise audiences with her hilarious portrayal of Aunt March. Streep takes this stuffy, aristocratic woman and turns her into a welcomed comic relief and expert social critique. Despite Streep’s extensive resume, her performance in Little Women is lasting and deeply memorable.

While many find the civil war-era story of sisterhood dated and dull, Gerwig managed to breathe new life into this iconic story. In Gerwig’s adaptation, she ensures that each sister’s journey is honored and respected, displaying an often forgotten section of the feminist movement: to respect the women who choose to live a domestic life. By focusing the story through the lens of modern feminism, Gerwig brings to fruition the original themes and visions of Alcott’s classic novel.

From the tender, maternal love of Marmee (Laura Dern) to the soft glow of the March family home, this film radiates warmth. Even while tackling the complex themes of sisterhood, grief and feminism, Little Women retains an air of honesty and grace. Gerwig expertly crafts and captures multi-dimensional female characters, expertly displaying the simultaneous kindness and strength of the March sisters. These women perfectly show that generosity is not a weakness, but a natural lifestyle admired by all.

Little Women is sure to please life-long fans and new audiences alike. Gerwig’s new adaptation masterfully captures the literary classic and its beloved characters while still adding her own unique fingerprint to the classic tale. This film’s rare honesty make it the perfect start to the new year.

To put it simply, Little Women is a masterpiece.

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