Louisa M. Alcott’s novel Little Women has been adapted to the big screen several times. Some time ago, I even wrote here on the blog about one of these, the 1994 film by Gillian Armstrong,. At the end of 2019, the umpteenth repetition of the story of the March sisters came out, this time directed (and co-written) by that same Greta Gerwig who had made the lovely Ladybird a couple of years before (also reviewed on this blog). Has she managed to say anything new with this latest version of this classic of the American literature? Maybe not, but she did it with style and the result is very pleasant!
Saoirse Ronan (the Irish protagonist of the aforementioned Ladybird) is the protagonist Jo March and she’s accompanied by Emma Watson (Meg), Florence Pugh (Amy) and Eliza Scanlen (Beth) to complete the group of the March sisters who have two exceptional parents: Laura Dern (straight from Jurassic Park) and Bob Odenkirk (from Breaking Bad)! Add to the cast a splendid Meryl Streep as their aunt, a part that she can play with her eyes closed, and it becomes clear that no expense has been spared in casting! It’s curious that the four main actresses are all non-American, but personally I found them all very good, so I don’t think there’s any reason to complain.
So what about the film? I believe that the choice to tell the story in non-chronological order paid off. The narration acquires a remarkable dynamism aided by a series of temporal jumps always well connected through images, dialogues and ideas. Together with details such as clothing and haircuts and a good use of make up, a choice was made to avoid digital effects of aging and de-aging and all the actors and actresses have managed to perfectly interpret their characters in different moments of their lives. Not only has Gerwig managed to avoid any confusion, but she has also remained very faithful to the book, characterizing most of its characters well and without sacrificing too much of the original material. This demonstrates a great job not only at the level of direction, but also in the script-writing phase!
The only negative note for me is related to Timothée Hal Chalamet who plays a Laurie who looks like an emo teenager from the 2000s who just stepped out of a shampoo commercial. Every time I saw him on the screen he took out a little atmosphere from the scene, he always seemed to be the intruder in an otherwise perfect picture! Perhaps the choice to use him like that is to be justified with the desire to speak to a young audience, but honestly it didn’t work with me (probably because I haven’t been young for a while).
To conclude, I highly recommend watching this film which shows how even a classic of literature and cinema can still offer a lot if written and directed with solid ideas and interpreted with passion and skill (as for the technical department I can only say: excellent costumes, scenography, photography and good soundtrack, although not particularly memorable or innovative). Ciao!
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