“Life is too short to be mad at your sisters.” So says Jo March in the much beloved Little Women. At a disadvantage because I’ve never read the book, the film does indeed seem written for females. Yet, the themes of female bonding, crushed ambitions, and loneliness are understandable to all. Greta Grewig, director (Lady Bird), films a gorgeous piece set in the 1860-1870’s. At times its pace seems slow, even Louisa May Alcott and her editor thought the early chapters were a bit dull. Thankfully, her young female audience did not. Stick with it and the latter part gets its deserved accolades. I give Little Women 4 Gavels and it receives a 96% Rotten Tomatoes rating with a 93% Audience score.
Now adults, Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy contend with the choices in front of them, marry for money, marry for love, or remain a spinster. Notably, the opportunities for women to make money are extremely limited. In flashbacks, the sisters, seven years younger, share their dreams. As Meg tells Jo, “just because my dreams are different than yours doesn’t make them any less valid.” Their journey has ups and downs and “we must know how it ends.”
One might say that Saoirse Ronan is the Meryl Streep of her generation. As Jo, she puts Ms. Streep’s Aunt March to shame. Timothee Chalamet is the love interest, Laurie, a bad boy of the 1860’s. Emma Watson and Florence Pugh are Meg and Amy, both solid in supporting roles.
The recent fad of telling stories in repeated flashbacks continues to be annoying. Given that the Oscar nominations for Best Picture now includes ten films, I’ll be surprised if Little Women is not included. With good buzz, this one should also be a commercial success. Expect it to hang around theaters well into the New Year. As if you need reminding, the story is still a tear-jerker. But, it is also like comfort food. It’s one you re-visit over and and over because it is timeless. Be advised that Ms. Gerwig takes some liberties with the story, allegedly to tell her own version. Some won’t care for that, but I think most won’t mind.