Little Women, rated PG
Little Women, based on the much-loved novel by Louisa May Alcott (published in two parts in 1868 and 1869), is a delightful film, one of the best I’ve seen in 2019. The film about the Marsh sisters is set in 19th century New England, has an excellent cast, and is well acted and directed. The film is written and directed by two-time Oscar nominee Greta Gerwig (Lady Bird), and has been nominated for two Golden Globe Awards – best actress for Saoirse Ronan and best original score by Alexandre Desplat.
Gerwig chooses to tell the story of the four March sisters switching from scenes between when they were younger women and more mature women. This approach takes a bit of time to adjust to. Much of the film is told through the eyes of Jo. The film begins seven years into the future with Jo (the Alcott character), played by three-time Oscar nominee Saoirse Roman (Brooklyn, Lady Bird, Atonement) residing in a boarding house in New York, pursuing her dreams of being a novelist. We see her meeting with publisher Mr. Dashwood, played by Tracy Letts (Lady Bird, August: Osage County, Ford v. Ferrari). It is in New York that she meets Professor Bhaer, played by French actor Louis Garrel. Sister Amy, played by Florence Pugh is in Paris learning how to paint with her Aunt March who is played by three-time Oscar winner Meryl Streep (The Iron Lady, Sophie’s Choice, Kramer vs. Kramer).
Laurie (though Jo calls him Teddy), played by Oscar nominee Timothée Chalamet (Call Me By Your Name, Beautiful Boy, Lady Bird), is the grandson of the March’s wealthy neighbor Mr. Laurence, played by an unrecognizable Oscar winner Chris Cooper (Adaptation).
Laurie clearly cares deeply for Jo, as does Jo for Teddy, but not in the same way. Jo is strong and independent, wanting to make her way as a successful novelist, and not having to marry so that a husband can take care of her financially.
Beth, played by Eliza Scanlen, is a pianist, who is invited by Mr. Laurence to play the piano in his mansion. Beth reminds him of his own daughter who died at a young age. We see him listening to Beth as she plays the piano. Meg, played by Emma Watson (Harry Potter films, Beauty and the Beast) longs to marry for love and to have a family.
Marmee, the girl’s mother, is played by two-time Oscar nominee Laura Dern (Wild, Rambling Rose, Marriage Story). She is trying to keep the family together and raise her girls while her husband, played by three-time Golden Globe nominee Bob Odenkirk (Better Call Saul), is serving as a chaplain in the Civil War.
Themes in the film include sacrifice, generosity, love, family, marriage, kindness, forgiveness and prayer. The film doesn’t have any content concerns to speak of, though it does deal with subjects such as poverty, illness and death.
The musical score is by two-time Oscar winner Alexandre Desplat (The Shape of Water, The Grand Budapest Hotel). The cinematography is by Yorick Le Saux and the costume design was by Oscar winner Jacqueline Durran (Anna Karenina).
Little Women is a well-made film featuring beautiful costumes and music, along with strong acting performances, particularly Saoirse Roman as Jo Marsh. Highly recommended!