In Writer and Director Greta Gerwig’s adaptation of Louisa May Alcott’s “Little Women“, Jo March, Alcott’s Hero, played by Saoirse Ronan, regrets her angry unforgiving nature over her younger sister Amy, played by Florence Pugh, who could have died, because of her irresponsibility. Wise Mother Marmee, played by Laura Dern, sits beside distraught Jo. She says that she knows what it’s like to be “angry nearly every day of my life”. She hopes that Jo does better. Jo confesses to her consuming writer’s passion, and Amy’s callous act when they were children.
Marmee reminds, “There are some natures too noble to curb, too lofty to bend.” Perhaps, following one’s greater nature is more about what you’re willing to give up. That too is the eloquent beauty of Greta’s “Little Women”. Greta reunites with Saoirse from “Lady Bird” in Alcott’s rites of passage tale of unconditional love. Saoirse plays the young vulnerable idealist Jo, who wants to be taken legitimately as a writer. Still, she wants to be loved.
Saoirse’s Jo cops to her loneliness to compassionate Laura’s Marmee. Mom asks Jo if she loves Laurie, played by charmingly aloof Timothee Chalamet. Jo says, “I want to be loved.” Marmee says, “That’s not the same as loving.” No, it’s not.
Still, Jo has unconditional love. Returning home from New York to care for her ailing sister Beth, played by quietly strong Eliza Scahlen, she reads to Beth at the beach. Weakened Beth wants to hear more of Jo’s own stories. She tells her, “Keep writing… after I’m gone.” Jo’s eyes well with tears. So did mine.
“Little Women” has great soulfulness and humanity. Life is both joy and loss on the journey of creating your own greater version. Life is about defining your calling, your purpose, and finding balance. Yes, we all want to be loved. Maybe part of being loved is forgiving others and ourselves, and giving love back, too. Rather, I believe that’s what Greta Gerwig and Louisa May Alcott are trying to say.
Set during the US Civil War, Director Greta brilliantly weaves childhood flashback into her very contemporary transformational narrative. The 1860’s was not the time for women, which might be the social irony of Alcott’s novel. Wealthy Aunt March, played with humorous gravitas by Meryl Streep, reminds Amy that a woman must either have money or marry a man with it.
Laura’s Marmee raises her 4 daughters Jo, Meg, Amy, and Beth, played by Saoirse, Emma Watson, Florence, and Eliza, all alone while her Husband, played by solid Bob Odenkirk, is away supporting the Civil War.
The girls all have their individual passions. Jo, of course wants to be a writer. From the time they were young children, she wrote plays for her sisters to performs, albeit reluctantly at times. Meg’s passion is acting. Amy wants to be a famous painter. Beth is quiet shy piano protégé.
The March’s live next door to the very rich Laurence’s. Their longtime childhood friend is playboy Theodore ‘Laurie’. Timothee embodies surprising charm and depth of emotion in Laurie. Laurie has been in love with Jo, since they were teens. Jo loves Laurie, yet not in the way he wished. That’s the designed melodrama of “Little Women”. What could have been the perfunctory plot device, Greta reinvents as the narrative of self-discovery and forgiveness. Greta’s profound muse is Saoirse.
Saoirse authentically captures the joy and the suffering in Jo’s visage, in her being. She’s wickedly funny negotiating her book with publisher Mr. Dashwood, played by cantankerous Tracy Letts, also from “Lady Bird”. Her kindness comforts when she hugs Marmee following personal tragedy.
Saoirse’s nobility rises and never bends. That’s the distinct heart and humanity of Greta Gerwig’s “Little Women”. Often times, creating the greater versions of ourselves is about letting go. It’s about love and forgiveness, for others and for ourselves. That makes watching “Little Women” beautiful. Just saying.
This post was previously published on IMDb and is republished here with the author’s permission.
LITTLE WOMEN Official Trailer (2019) Emma Watson, Saoirse Ronan Movie
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