Little Women Movie Review
My wife is angry with me: I went and saw the new Little Women without her. Time to watch Marriage Story with her—oh, wait.
According to my wife, who claims she has since forgiven me, but who you should suspect should I go missing in the coming weeks, the 1994 version of Little Women is perfect—so why remake it? There’s no real answer for that, but writer/director Greta Gerwig has nonetheless made a worthy drama-comedy, her second film following 2017’s excellent Lady Bird.
This new Little Women features an amazing cast that includes Saoirse Ronan, Emma Watson, Florence Pugh, Eliza Scanlen, Timothée Chalamet, Laura Dern, Chris Cooper, and Meryl Streep. Ronan, as usual, is a joy to watch; she revels in her role as the rebellious free spirit Jo. The rest are good as well, though to varying degrees of memorability; ironically, for such a female-oriented film, Chalamet is the best of the bunch, his charisma and character’s complexity unmatched in every scene.
Having never seen earlier incarnations of the story I don’t have anything to compare it to, but Little Women is a breezy, enjoyable jaunt, even if there isn’t anything particularly deep or fascinating about it. The movie is superbly written and directed with a wit and charm that defies your typical period piece, though the movie rarely feels as if it’s set in the 1860s.
What doesn’t always work is how the movie shifts between past and present, in large part because the cast looks so similar in the two different time periods. It isn’t always clear which time period is on screen. Most confusing is Florence Pugh, who apparently is supposed to be a young teen during half of the film but looks her age (23) throughout. As good as she is, her attempts to act like a petulant little child simply don’t work.
Despite trivial issues such as that, Little Women is a fine piece of filmmaking that once again proves Gerwig is a filmmaker who should be watched relentlessly. The movie itself isn’t groundbreaking by any means, but it’s an entertaining, consistently well-made film that will undeniably resonate with its target audience (women, not me).
My wife is watching me as I write this review. Is that a knife she’s holding?
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.