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Little Women

February 9, 2020

Little Women (2019)
Director: Greta Gerwig
Actors: Saoirse Ronan, Florence Pugh, Emma Watson

Image result for little women film 2019

Synopsis: The more youthful days of the March sisters who grow up in Concord, Massachusetts, juxtaposed to seven years on, when each of them has more challenging personal circumstances.

Review: It’s hard to really quibble with Greta Gerwig’s adaptation of ‘Little Women’. Arguably the most distinctive elements of it are the proto-feminist touches that will resonate with today’s audience. Gerwig lands a handful of tub-thumping monologues in the mouths of her protagonists, and there is the meta-focus on Jo’s need to add a romantic twist to the novel she has sent to the patriarchal publishers regarding her own (loosely disguised) travails with men. These flourishes do not overly burden the film, and the novel was, after all, a paean to familial female solidarity, and an adaptation can and should reflect the ideologies and tastes of the time.

Gerwig’s main directorial success is the structural shifts she has made, having both timeframes of the novel a continuous, dovetailing conceit. There are the halcyonic, sun-dappled days of the girls’ youth culminating in Meg’s wedding, juxtaposed to the sombre present day threads as each of the four girls battle more challenging circumstances and dilemmas.

Other than that, it’s a bit of period drama comfort food, with no expense spared in the A-list cast and budget. Some of the characters even suspiciously look like they stepped out of a Chanel advert. I’ve no qualms with that, though I can’t quite side with the pre-determined readings pushing the film into more exalted territory. Is it some fans and commentators’ desire to make an auteur out of Gerwig, or to pin some of the lack of female representation debate onto this film? Either way, those commentators would be better advised to expand their cinephilia and focus on the wider reaches of the film industry rather than the millionaires and Hollywood elite who make a nice life out of current structures, thank you very much! (February 2020)

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