Little Women Movie Review: This Oscar Contender is One of the Best-directed Films  Of 2019
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Little Women Movie Review: This Oscar Contender is One of the Best-directed Films Of 2019

The screen adaption of the literary classic makes for a compelling watch. Don’t miss it!

  • Movie Name Little Women
  • Director Greta Gerwig
  • Actor Saoirse Ronan,Emma Watson, Florence Pugh, Laura Dern, Timothée Chalamet Directed by Greta Gerwig
  • Rating
  • Rating 5/5 Stars

Rating: *****(5 stars)

To not  nominate Greta Gerwig in the Best Director’s category is a shame that the Oscars would have to live down for as long as they (the Oscars) and the male biases that exist in  movie industries all over the world, live.

 Ironically the protagonist  of Louisa May Alcott’s novel  faces such prejudices all her life. In an early sequence  of this  resplendent  adaptation of  a timeless novel, Jo (the incandescent Saoirse Ronan) is told by her publisher that her writing needs to avoid masculine themes and concentrate on the heroine finding a suitable match for herself.

This is America in the 1860s and director Gerwig plunges right in there. We meet the March family of all-women (the father is away at war) and immediately fall in love with all of them, collectively and individually. There is a magical quality to how much empathy and compassion Gerwig brings to the dining table.

Each of the four sisters is played with a luminous credibility by actresses who seem the least conscious of  the  burden of  re-creating a classic that has been done repeatedly in the past. 17 times, I am informed, though I  am not sure of the number since I haven’t seen all the renditions of  Alcott’s  influential  novel. From the  screen adaptations that I’ve seen, this one  is  by far, the finest, most supple and energetic, warmest  and  most heart-warming.

 Gerwig uses the  somewhat cramped spaces  in the March home to generate  a sense of  familial camaraderie that evokes envy and empathy in us every time we see the sisters  bantering and  bickering. The  actors seem to  enjoy a togetherness  born outside camera range. They were one even before Ms Gerwig yelled action.

What makes Little Women unique is its complete eschewal  of  negative forces. Issues such as  racial discrimination and class distinction are not dwelled on. Even the theme of  gender bias is  brought  up in a  way that never mocks  masculinity. In fact, right  next  to the March sisters’ home is  a magnificent man-filled  mansion inhabited  by a generous aristocrat(Chris  Cooper) and  his highly eligible grandson Laurie, played by the Call Me By Your Name star Timothee  Chalamet.

I’ve been wary of all the raves showered on Chalamet. Until now. In Little Women I realized Chalamet was born to be in a classic  adaptation. His  attitude and responses suggest a deep attachment and affinity to  an era that’s forever lost. The same is true  of the other actors in the brilliant ensemble cast. They all breathe and exhale an oxygen  that’s  gone with the wind.

Little Women Movie Review: This Oscar Contender is One of the Best-directed Films  Of 2019

And yet the  complex narrative  does not  expend its precious energy in  nostalgia  or regret. There is  a defiant disregard for time passages, with  the  plot  skipping from one episode to another in no chronological order and sometimes reviving incidents  that we thought had been left behind  on the  editing table. Eventually all the ingredients in this  ravishing  ode  to muliebrity comes  together in a triumphant embrace. This is   life the way it is meant to be.

 This is  one film that is designed to seduce  us back for a second viewing to savour the nuances  in the  delicately drawn  performances, none more so than the unbearably beautiful Saoirse Ronan who plays Jo with such spirited sublimity. The other three sisters, Emma Watson as the conformist Meg , Florence Pugh as the rebellious  Amy , Eliza Scanlen as the dying Beth are exception in their  grasp of  their characters’ ravenous  need  of self-expression.

There are countless moments of  heart stopping beauty  in  this  wondrous work  of art. I will pick the one  where  the aristocrat sits on the stairs  of  his  mansion listening to the ailing Beth play the piano that his dead daughter once did. Then there is this shot of  Jo cradling  Beth in  his  her arms on the beach, the louring skies silhouetting the two women in a cosmic embrace.

Who is  the real star  of  Little Women? Author  Louisa May Alcott? Director Greta Gerwig? Actor Saoirse Ronan? Or the cinematographer Yorick Le Saux? The  mystery  will linger for as long as the magic of cinema  lives.

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