Greta Gerwig writes and directs this non-linear adaptation of the 1868 classic novel by Louisa May Alcott where Jo tells the life stories of her sisters Amy, Beth, and Meg after the Civil War. Little Women is the seventh adaptation of the original novel and was shot in the same location where the original novel is set … Concord, Massachusetts.
Eliza Scanlen portrays the youngest March sister, Beth. Saoirse Ronan is stellar as Jo and is complemented well by Laura Dern as the family matriarch Marmee and Florence Pugh as Amy.
Emma Watson shines as Meg while Bob Odenkirk portrays the March family patriarch and Meryl Streep is Aunt May March. Theodore “Laurie” Laurence portrayed by Timothée Chalamet with Louis Garrel as Friedrich and James Norton as John.
Theater veteran Jayne Houdyshell portrays the family servant Hannah and makes the most of her limited time in an endearing role. Chris Cooper portrays Mr. Laurence and Tracy Letts is a publisher/editor. Both these characters are understandably enamored with the Marches. Ronan, Chalamet, and Letts all previously collaborated on Gerwig’s 2017 feature film directorial debut, Lady Bird.
This amazing family is loosely based on Alcott’s own family and the cast and crew equal this quality material with extraordinary work and results at every turn.
Filmmaking framing, tracking shots, locations (the sequence on the beach with Jo & Meg, a proposal shot, Amy leaving Europe, etc.) and Yorick Le Saux’s cinematography endlessly impress.
The only snafu is a sequence where Amy (Pugh) is painting then Aunt May (Streep) calls her in then May’s facial movements don’t match the dialogue.
The screenplay navigates between past and present with some extra creative touches that add authenticity and nostalgia. The dialogue delivery is fast but clear. The overlapping chatter still resonates as each character develops beyond their obvious, yet enamoring personalities in their refining relationships and “out of my comfort box” moments.
Alexandre Desplat’s musical score blends perfectly into the classic settings and warm social logistics as his notes warm the audience with perfect emotional tones. An energetic and well-varied masterpiece.
A modern masterpiece that garnered six Oscar nominations (actress (Ronan), adapted screenplay, musical score, picture, supporting actress (Pugh)) winning for Jacqueline Durran’s costume design. I was absolutely bewildered by the snub of Gerwig as director (at post-production, she was six months pregnant with her first child). Highly recommended (**** out of four stars) and rated PG for thematic elements and brief smoking.
Amy Pascal produced this satisfying 2 hour and 15-minute film along with Denise Di Novi and Robin Swicord who also worked on the 1994 version of Little Women starring Winona Ryder, Susan Sarandon, Christian Bale, Claire Danes, Kirsten Dunst, Trini Alvarado, and Gabriel Bryne.