LITTLE WOMEN is a wholesome, delightful, emotionally riveting piece of filmmaking. It is like a warm hug, followed by an ice-cold dagger plunged straight through your heart, with an ensuing miraculous recovery, and another warm hug to top things off. Greta Gerwig directs and adapts Louisa May Alcott’s classic story with stroke after stroke of mastery. I was inspired, I was challenged, I laughed, and I teared-up. And that’s what great movies do.
The chemistry among the cast is simply lovely. Saoirsa Ronan, Florence Pugh, Emma Watson, and Eliza Scanlen shine brightly as the core group of young women at the center of the story. Supporting roles are filled by the likes of Timotheé Chalamet, Laura Dern, Meryl Streep, and Tracy Letts, among others. These actors add supplementary material to the equation, without overshadowing the wonderful central characters. This balance can be attributed to the magnificent screenwriting efforts of Greta Gerwig, who understands precisely how to respect each character’s overall importance to the themes of the story, and use each figure accordingly. Editor Nick Houy also sews the threads of the narrative together with clever aptitude, working with a script that constantly flashes backwards and forwards in the chronology of the story. This style of storytelling will not work for every viewer, especially those not willing to mentally commit to the back-and-forth nature of the chronicle. However, audience members who place careful attention on their viewing experience will come to appreciate the brilliant opportunities of commentary provided by this narrative approach. The echoes and reflections of the past reverberate throughout the entire fabric of the story, ensuring even greater impact for some of the most poignant moments.
Looking to the cinematography (Director of Photography Yorick Le Saux), each shot of the 35 MM film is framed to perfection, with exquisite color grading and use of natural lighting. The production design (Jess Gonchor) and costume design (Jacqueline Durran) are ornately detailed and further thrust the viewer into the mid-19th century setting. Every single moment of the film feels purely authentic, both aesthetically and emotionally. Alexandre Desplat’s gorgeous musical score elevates the whole experience and range of emotions. The entire feature touched me on a personal level, through and through.
This is a movie for every man, woman, and child. Everybody needs to see what Greta Gerwig and her entire cast and crew have done here. This is a tale that has been told many times over the generations, but the urgency of its subject matter remains as relevant as ever before.