Director Greta Gerwig brings Little Women to life on the big screen with a blaze of ferocious purpose, urgent passion, boisterous humor, and the nourishing essence of family life in good and bad times. (WSJ 12/24/19). This classic is splendid and the performances are so rich. Saoirse Ronan embodies Jo March with her soul. Emma Watson is Meg, Florence Pugh is “bratty” but sympathetic Amy, and Eliza Scanlen is dear doomed Beth. Each of these actresses are superb – so much life and sisterly love and battles.
Timothee Chalamet is the neighbor lad Laurie who loves Jo, but doesn’t realize how doomed is their relationship. Jo’s energy and determination to be a writer causes her anger at being a female in this day and age (1860s). “ I can’t get over my disappointment at being a girl.”
Laura Dern’s Marmee is perfect as she says, “I’m angry nearly every day of my life.” But she leads by example in caring for her family while Mr. March is at war. Mr. Lawrence (Chris Cooper) is solid as the rich neighbor who is drawn to the female energy and glad to help in so many ways. And Meryl Streep plays Aunt March – the crusty rich aunt who expects the girls to fawn over her. Meryl is kept in check and Greta uses her wisely.
The movie moves back and forward in time. Once you get in the flow, the structure works well. It gives a good picture of the March sisters – young and putting on plays vs grown and navigating adulthood, Beth’s illness (bring tissues), an artistic writing career. Jo March is the central figure of Little Women - she is a wonder woman for the time. Author Louisa May Alcott’s book is meaningful today and this movie is richly well done. I loved it.