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LITTLE WOMEN gets 9/10 Big emotions


Directed by Greta Gerwig

Starring Saoirse Ronan, Florence Pugh, Emma Watson, Eliza Scalen, Timothee Chalamet, Laura Dern, Meryl Streep

9/10

Here’s a film that truly transports you to its setting, not just because of the lavish and lived-in sets and costumes, but because of its characters and how truly believable they are: watching this film is like being right beside them as they experience young womanhood, growing through the various woes and giddy excitement of life.

The ‘little women’ are the four March sisters, Jo (Sairose Ronan), Amy (Florence Pugh), Meg (Emma Watson), and Beth (Eliza Scalen). Living somewhat extravagantly, though without a father (who is at war), they stave off boredom through going to dances, making plays, and squabbling with one another – as siblings do.

All the actors involved, though the four main leads in particular, absolutely inhabit their characters and appear utterly life-like interacting with each other, conveying a deep sense of sisterly devotion and companionship. This adaptation of the Louisa May Alcott novel (previously adapted to the big screen eight times) is fairly fast paced, managing to fit in time for all sorts of cross relations between one sister and another, building up an incredible sense of each of their temperaments and how they change as they come of age.

Just as the women evolve and reshape their values, so too does this film, like it’s growing up with them. The notion of marriage for a woman, along with its benefits and disillusionments, are debated by the four sisters, each responding to such a terse expectancy in their own individualistic manner. But it’s Jo whose conflicted feelings about traditionalism and independency evolve as she’s influenced by the various people close to her in her life and the various paths they’ve taken. Through a character like Jo, Little Women strongly ponders the existential worry and excitement of how it is one can lead their way through life, influenced by the culture and their inner self.

As it approaches its end, it does seem to stumble along, trying to find the right finishing point, and though it feels it’s layering one conclusion on top of another, at least the very final moment capping this story off is satisfying and doesn’t sully any of the greatness that came before. Little Women is a wholly assured and powerfully emotional piece of storytelling, it’s a film that’s so entirely warm and alive, it feels like it’s really occurring before us.

DAVID MORGAN-BROWN

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