4/4

Little Women [2019] ★★★★

I didn’t think I’d care for another version of “Little Women”, but now that I’ve seen what writer-director Greta Gerwig has managed to achieve, I have to apologize. This is a beautiful film from start to finish, a staggering achievement from a filmmaker that doesn’t play by the rules. How can a story written by Louisa May Alcott over 150 years ago still feel fresh and timeless in 2020? It’s a simple story on the surface: Four sisters who grew up together have to make life-changing decisions once they’ve come of age. And much like life itself, these changes can be audacious and sometimes cruel. Although the film’s emotions are immediate and contemporary, Gerwig never lets us forget that this is still a period piece, set at a time when men made most of the decisions. The costumes, sets and locations have an organic feel to them that suits all the wonderful performances. Saoirse Ronan, Emma Watson, Florence Pugh and Eliza Scanlen are all perfectly cast. And there are no weak links in the supporting cast, including Timothée Chalamet, Laura Dern and the great Meryl Streep. I don’t say this quite often about a recent release, but “Little Women” is impossible not to love, especially with Yorick Le Saux’s stunning cinematography and Alexandre Desplat’s evocative score. It’s a reminder that no genre is completely played out when there’s a talented filmmaker around to see it with fresh eyes. And indeed, Gerwig has managed to pull-off the impossible: turn a familiar story into a full-blown triumph. “Little Women” could well be my favorite period piece, ever.

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