Film Review: “Little Women” (2019) ★★★★★

There are many examples of films made and books written that were well ahead of their time. Off the top of my head, I could easily recall “Victor Victoria” (1982), Orson Welles’ “Citizen Kane” (1941),  “The Children Hour” (1961) starring Audrey Hepburn and Shirley McCain, Anatole Litvak’s “Goodbye Again” (1961), “To Kill a Mockingbird” (1961) and of course, “The Million Pound Note” (1961) with Gregory Peck. While all of them could easily travel in time, back and forth, the chilling concept they offer is what the society is based on, and sadly, will never lose its relevance now or ever. Therefore, having watched “Little Women”, the 2019 version from one of the most intelligent directors, Greta Gerwig, reminds us how far we’ve come since and how much we’re yet to do to make this world a better place to live in.

Based on Louisa May Alcott’s novel, “Little Women”, the film follows the March family, rather their women, to show how they struggle on a daily basis yet how many joyful moments they have throughout. As the women navigate through their youth and adulthood, the film concentrates on the four sisters’ dreams, goals, and their gentle persona. Josephine ”Jo” March is a free-spirited person who decides her own fate. Amy March (Florence Pugh) is a maximalist; she expects nothing from her painting courses but perfection. Meg March (Emma Watson) always follows her heart but does her best to support the family the same as Jo does. Beth (Eliza Scanlen), the youngest of them all, is someone whose expectations are yet to be fulfilled if time and circumstances permit.

The film begins with Jo, who tries to convince an editor from Weekly Volcano to accept a written piece by herself but presenting it as her friend’s. Earning twenty dollars from her writing instigates what we have come to anticipate from Jo March. Then, we find her joining a boarding school in New York where she meets the most honest critic of her writing, Friedrich Bhaer (Louis Garrel), who happens to be a German professor. As the country goes through war, Father March (Bob Odenkirk) is still on the frontline of the country’s defense while his little women are at home, trying their best to stay on their feet. It becomes evident early on that it is up to Jo to keep the family afloat, or at least this is how she thinks.

Meg, as one of the older sisters, contributes her share to support the family while Beth and Amy are yet to build up their ground for a prosperous future. This is when drama begins to unfold in their neighborhood. Laurie (Timothée Chalamet) is the March’s wealthy neighbor. He, as we learn, is desperately and deeply in love with Jo, and when he proposes to her in the hope to live with her happily ever after, she tells him something that made her come across much wiser than she initially appeared, “Teddy, I don’t believe I will ever marry. I’m happy as I am, and I love my liberty too well to be in any hurry to give it up. And one day you will understand the choice I made.”

That said, there are not many films that can make you feel serene and happy for being alive. Luckily, Gerwig’s “Little Women” is one of them that will make any heart sing with joy from the start to end. Whether it is the scenery, cinematography, or direction, everything about “Little women” is much grander than one expects. The film itself is more like a love letter to the cinematic world made through the contribution of one excellent and extremely gifted writer/director, Gerwig, we have no rights to overlook.

To a certain extent, “Little Women” not only meets the viewer’s expectations but goes beyond it. Told from the sisters’ perspective, the film unfolds the harsh time women had to go through. Even though one may think that those unfortunate times when women had to prove themselves worthy was a part of society’s evolution, one particular line from Jo March tells it all, “I just feel like women… they have minds, and they have souls as well as just hearts, and they’ve got ambition, and they’ve got talent, as well as just beauty, and I’m so sick of people saying that love is just all a woman is fit for.”

As for character development, it’s amazing to watch how all four women grow. Of course, they will have a tragedy strike their family; they will have to bury loved ones and cry but find the strength to smile as well. As for Jo, it is up to her to make up her mind. She knows what she wants, she is full of principles and is right in her demands. But when the heart and the mind begin conflicting with each other, a storm will occur changing her significantly, nonetheless delivering a strong female character who, no matter what, still does things on her own terms.

To conclude, “Little Women” is a poignant and deeply moving film that’s like a sharp arrow – flies to reach its target, the audience’s hearts. Filled with honest emotions and sincerity, words can’t truly describe the importance of a film such as this. It’s not just a high-profile film with superb performances, but it’s the storyline, whether you are up to it or not, you should give a shot. We do need to hear more stories like this, not because it’s centered around women. but because it’s centered around people who are loving and loved, funny and sad, determined and strong at a time when beings from the 21st century would easily give up if we were in their shoes. Indeed, strength comes for a price, and the price is not the ultimate sacrifice but what comes out of it, which “Little Women” is all about.

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