Tuesday, December 24, 2019

Movie with Abe: Little Women

Little Women
Directed by Greta Gerwig
Released December 25, 2019

Throughout history, and to this day in many respects, women have been subjugated and told that their contributions to society are less worthwhile and valid than those of men, even when the evidence to the contrary is truly undeniable. Many women have fought to be taken seriously and eventually persevered, though there are sacrifices to be made along the way, some of which include the cessation of relationships or the forfeiture of fortunes that might come from living a more acceptable and proscribed life. The intertwining of the two can be most interesting, and is often found in those who grow up in the same home or environment and choose remarkably different paths.

Jo March (Saoirse Ronan) is an enterprising young writer seeking to make a name for herself in a man’s world in 1860s New England, pitching a piece in the film’s opening scene to an editor (Tracy Letts) who insists that a female protagonist should either die or get married at the end of any good story. Jo grows up in a crowded home with her sisters Meg (Emma Watson), Amy (Florence Pugh), and Beth (Eliza Scanlen), with the supportive guidance of their mother Marmee (Laura Dern) and the more discerning old-world attitude of their Aunt March (Meryl Streep). As Meg looks ahead to a future as a wife, Amy dreams of being noticed as much as her older sister, and Beth quietly lives in the shadow of her siblings, Jo is courted by an excitable neighbor, Laurie (Timothée Chalamet), and must consider where she wants her life to go.

This is officially the eighth cinematic adaptation of the 1868 novel of the same name by Louisa May Alcott, though it’s the only one that this reviewer can be sure he has actually seen and remembered. Director Greta Gerwig, who, like with her solo directorial debut, “Lady Bird,” would have surely played Jo had this film been made a decade earlier, livens up a classic tale with plenty of modern energy, imbuing all of her characters with personality and purpose. The film’s events are presented out of sequence, with unmarked cuts to different moments in the lives of these young women, giving their story a sense of timelessness, enhanced even further by the fact that Jo is writing about their adventures, fighting not to harm the integrity of its content by adhering to the whims of a chauvinistic editor.

This film’s plot is mildly familiar, and certainly more so to anyone who has seen or read previous iterations, but it is made relevant and enthusiastic by the contributions of all involved. Ronan is a fantastic fit for the spirited Jo, and Pugh stands out in the supporting cast as the most self-involved of the sisters who just wants to be noticed as her own person. Gerwig brings back those she has cast before, including Chalamet and Letts, and has now amassed an even greater cadre of talent from which to draw on for future projects. This is an affirming, entertaining journey filled with gorgeous costumes, a wonderful musical score, and a rewarding cast breathing new life into a story that is sure to appear on film again if history is any indication.


No comments: