Little Women: A Review

By Ephram Oliver, 15-year-old grandchild of Greenbelter and Member Stephanie Zirkin.

The first thing I did after the credits rolled during Little Women was mouth “wow.” I love movies directed by women about women, and Greta Gerwig seems to be the master of exploring the complexities of the female spirit, portraying their strength as well as their weakness, their kind hearts and their bitter souls. We see all of these sisters tearing each other apart one moment and nurturing each other the next. 

The film is based on a 19th-century novel written by Louisa May Alcott, which was very ahead of its time for teaching young girls they could be more than just the person their husband was married to, and whether it be stemming from the source material or from Gerwig’s screenplay, the movie expertly dodges the “I’m not like other girls” cliche with the character of Jo March in favor of a more realistic depiction of a principled woman who does not want to be tied down but also does not want to be lonely for the rest of her life. She’s selfish at times, desperately trying to keep her sisters around forever and convincing them that the path they’re on is one of misery. She wants to take the road less traveled, but it’s a tumultuous journey at that. 

One of the film’s other creative choices is the decision to take a metatextual angle. It’s no secret that Little Women is a largely autobiographical account of Alcott’s life, and Gerwig brings that to the forefront, as Jo is finding herself having to compromise her artistic vision in order to appease the majority of American society at the time. As someone who wants to make a career out of telling stories of their own, I found myself deeply inspired by the depiction of the creative process here and satisfied by the sequence showing how people used to bind books back in the day. 

The last thing we have to talk about is the decision to not have the film take place in chronological order but, rather, flip back and forth between two parallel timelines. I respect if you found this choice to be confusing, but at a certain point, I just stopped looking at the logistics of it all and just let it all wash over me. The fluidity of time gives it this dreamlike quality. It feels like a stream of consciousness from Jo as she chooses to map out this story however she feels. Whatever speaks to her first. It allows moments to not be locked down in a certain place or time but just lets it float out there in the universe, never to be forgotten. 

It’s an indescribable feeling walking out of the theater out into the real world after having experienced this picture. This film felt so warm to me. It’s constantly lit with light, warm colors, only replacing it with dark, cold colors in moments of deep sorrow and loss. 

This feels like the kind of movie I can watch over and over for years on end, never having lost the experience, and I feel like it’s going to be that film for a lot of people. I rarely say this, but it genuinely feels like the movie for everyone: teenage girls who have the hots for Timothee Chalamet and older women who remember reading the book as a young girl. I haven’t felt this way about a movie this decade since La La Land in 2016, and it’s probably going to be a while before I feel that same way again. Greta Gerwig is a goddess among mortals, and I adore this special movie of hers with all of my heart.

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