Little Women has been adapted time and time again for the stage, film and TV. This time, writer/director Greta Gerwig proves that Louisa May Alcott’s novel really is timeless with a phenomenal Oscar nominated film.
In Little Women, Jo March (Saoirse Ronan) reflects back and forth on her life growing up, telling the story of the March sisters; four young women determined to live life on their own terms. This is a story full of heart, emotion, strength and humour that grips you early and guides you through the eventful life of these sisters, both heartwarming and heart-wrenching. There’s not a dull moment in this entire 2 hour and 15 minute film as the story setup and the world building is so impeccable from Greta Gerwig that it sucks you in and is remarkably easy to follow as time goes on. Each of the four sisters has their own arc and their own personal journey over the course of the film that is just as equally engaging as the others. Their stories branch off in different directions but remain connected in various ways right through to the end. It not only depicts the sheer strength of Greta as a writer but also the strength of the sisterly bond depicted on screen.
As characters come and go and subplots are introduced and closed off, there’s not a moment of boredom or even a moment where the story slows to a jarring paced. It’s a very well crafted piece of art from beginning to end, which is no surprise when you see Greta Gerwig’s name, having delivered strong scripts in both Mistress America and 2017’s Lady Bird. She manages to capture the world and time the characters are living in with such detail that she creatively highlights the semi-autobiographical nature of the original work.
Greta Gerwig may be the star of the show behind the scenes, but it’s the on-screen performances that really deliver in terms of emphasising the heart of the story. Saoirse Ronan (Jo), Emma Watson (Meg), Florence Pugh (Amy) and Eliza Scanlen (Beth) are four powerhouse actors who all deliver their unrivalled best across every single scene. Not one of them misses a single beat and they all share a bond that has you wholly convinced they could be sisters in real life. The on-screen chemistry between them is electric and only brings sheer joy and entertainment when watching them together. It’s only fitting that Saoirse and Florence received Oscar nominations since their work stands out marginally above the rest with some key scenes that come to mind as soon as you mention their name.
Not one of that main cast puts a foot wrong, but it doesn’t stop there as the supporting cast are just as incredible across each of their scenes interacting with any of the four sisters. Notably, Timothée Chalamet shines through each and every scene he appears. He acts as a bit of a contrast to the lives of the March sisters, but also as one of the key pieces linking each of the sisters together in various ways. His presence and journey throughout the film is the most engaging one outside of the sisters. Laura Dern and Meryl Streep are two fantastic actresses and their experience shows in all of their scenes. They both play quite specific characters and do so very well, complimenting the performances of the lead cast but never once overshadowing them.
On a side note, the film looks stunning from the cinematography to the set design and costuming, everything comes together to craft a period piece that draws you into the world and transports you right back to the 1800s. All of this compliments the story, characters and performances remarkably well and is a testament to Greta Gerwig’s talent as a director to tie everything together and create an entirely well crafted film.
In the end, Little Women is a phenomenal film with a well crafted story, deeply engaging performances and filled with a tonne of heart, emotion and humour to keep you invested right through to the end. Anyone who is interesting in powerful stories with hints of drama and romance will get a great kick out of this film as it’s one of the best of the year. Regardless of whether it makes a splash at the upcoming Oscars, the work of Greta Gerwig has not gone unnoticed with six well deserved nominations.