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Little Women

This is Greta Gerwig’s latest film about 4 young women coming of age and living in pre-Civil War Massachusetts. I have not read the original novel, nor have I seen any of the previous versions of this, so I watched the film with no preconceptions. When I watch a Gerwig film I feel like I am being guided into a special place, and this film is no exception. She is a brilliant director who gets the most from her actors in this film about these 4 women finding their voices in the 19th century but feels relevant. Jo March (Saoirse Ronan), the oldest, is strong-willed and trying to establish herself as a writer with her own unique voice. Her publisher wants her to make sure that her writing ends with the woman getting married and her aunt (played by the wonderful Meryl Streep) tells her that marriage is her only option. Her sisters are Meg (Emma Watson), who wants to be an actress, May (Florence Pugh), who aspires to be a famous painter, and Beth (Eliza Scanlen). They are guided by their mother, played by Laura Dern, to be true to their own inner voices and to find their own paths, not those that have been pre-determined for them. The actresses playing the four sisters do a great job, especially Ronan who carries the film. Timothee Chamelet, who plays the rich neighbor Laurie, is excellent in his supporting role as the young man who finds joy with the women. The cinematography and score are also excellent, and Gerwig makes interesting and effective use of alternating between past and present to tell the women’s stories. Big thumbs up for a thoughtful period piece, with just the right amount of humor, that gives center stage to the energy and determination of women. Kudos to Gerwig for crafting a film that leaves you feeling really satisfied when the film is over. (2019; 4.5 Stars)

About Gary Burkholder

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