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Phenomenal job of literary classic

Sean I. Mills
Staff writer
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Posted 1/12/20

“Little Women” is an exceptional film. It’s rich, it’s emotional, and everyone on screen is just perfect. Though the sudden appearance of comedian Bob Odenkirk halfway through the film threw …

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Phenomenal job of literary classic

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“Little Women” is an exceptional film. It’s rich, it’s emotional, and everyone on screen is just perfect.

Though the sudden appearance of comedian Bob Odenkirk halfway through the film threw me for a loop.

“Little Women” is a fairly direct adaptation of the popular novel by up and coming director Greta Gerwig. Her last film — 2017’s “Ladybird” — was met with much critical success, so Gerwig has now jumped to tackling this literary classic. She does a phenomenal job.

The tale is that of the March sisters, Meg, Jo, Amy and Beth, and the trials and tribulations they face as they grow into young adults in the mid-19th century northeast. Specifically among them is Jo, who dreams of independence as a successful author, free of the domesticity that was expected of women at the time. Jo bristles constantly against those restrictions, but often finds herself alone in her fight.

Actor Saoirse Ronan owns the screen as Jo, headstrong and plain-looking compared to her sisters, she is the driving force of the movie. Ronan carries the film with ease, but she does not have to do it alone. Emma Watson, Florence Pugh and Eliza Scanlen are just as good as Meg, Amy and Beth.

This quartet of sisters is immediately likable, and their instant rapport with one another and the audience gives the film a very strong foundation.

And once you have that foundation of strong central characters, it branches out into the many interesting and lovely relationships they have with the various supporting characters. There were multiple times I got choked up watching “Little Women” simply because the scenes were so meaningful for the characters involved.

Such as when the girls’ father returns from the war halfway through the film, providing a nice surprise. That’s the role Odenkirk plays. And while he does just fine in the role, Odenkirk has a bit too much personality of his own to disappear into the performance. I just kept seeing Bob Odenkirk up there on the big screen; he was, perhaps, the only miscasting.

The story of “Little Women” has survived centuries and it is easy to see why with the new film. The characters are so richly devised and their story is one of goodness and tragedy in equal measure. It’s a story of family, love, courage and loss, told through real characters with real hopes and dreams, and that’s not as common as one might think in Hollywood.

I don’t have too much personal history with “Little Women”, but Greta Gerwig’s new film is about as definitive and as meaningful an adaptation as you’re ever likely to see. Truly a heart-warming film.

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