“Morals don’t sell nowadays” (Little Women review)

From director Greta Gerwig (Lady Bird) comes the 7th adaptation of Louisa May Alcott’s novel ‘Little Women’. As someone unfamiliar with the source material, this film was my first interaction with the story, and I found it utterly charming while confirming that Gerwig is a triumphant filmmaker to watch.

The story follows four sisters – Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy – and explores their domestic trials and tribulations as they transition from childhood to womanhood. It looks at love in the form of Theodore “Laurie” Laurence, injustice and equality, and explores the roles that are imposed in society and how those moulds can be broken.

Saoirse Ronan stars as Jo, with Emma Watson as Meg, Florence Pugh as Amy and Eliza Scalen as Beth. The four of them are utterly fabulous together and totally sell the loving sisterly bond they share. Ronan is unsurprisingly brilliant in her role, but Pugh is the one that steals the show as Amy, a character who provides a lot of laughs but also a lot of emotion. Timothée Chalamet then stars as Laurie and again confirms he’s a fantastically charming actor with a bright future ahead of him.

Other actors include Laura Dern as the sister’s mother, Meryl Streep as their Aunt May, Chris Cooper as Laurie’s father, Tracy Letts as book publisher Mr. Dashwood and James Norton as Laurie’s tutor. Again, the ensemble cast all work hand in hand to deliver a truly believable and touching story with real relationships and real conflicts.

The aesthetic style of the film is wonderful, with authentic production design, stunning costumes and a touching score by Alexandre Desplat. The cinematography is also beautiful, having been shot on location with 35mm film-stock. The result is a warm glowing piece that presents a reminiscent look at the past and the lessons we can learn from it. The story is cleverly told in two time periods, and the film uses colour grading to easily distinguish between the two.

Little Women is a majorly important film for 2019. It presents issues of the past that still exist today. At one moment, Amy states she “doesn’t want to become an ornament to society”, a touching and heart-breaking line that cuts to the truth. In another speech, Mr Dashwood recounts that “morals don’t sell nowadays”. It’s a harsh fact but one that is still all too apparent. Thank goodness Sony were happy to green-light this film so that it can be shown that morals do still matter.

Little Women is a moving story that looks at the roles imposed on women and how they can be changed. It looks at marriage, employment, and how love and happiness is the most vital thing in life, not money or status. Most importantly however, it proves how important female voices are in modern filmmaking. All but one of the lead actors, the key producer and obviously the writer/director are female. ‘Little Women’ therefore allows these empowered voices to be heard by a whole new generation through a timeless tale of love, warmth and family.

5 stars 5

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