Cast: Saorise Ronan, Emma Watson, Florence Pugh, Eliza Scanlen
Director: Greta Gerwig
Just looking at the cast of Little Women, if this doesn’t scream Oscar-contender then I don’t know what does. You can’t have this many talented actresses in a scene and not expect anything other than pure awesomeness by the end of it. Little Women lives up to this hype and should easily be able to contend with the best movies for awards this year. As an ensemble performance that elevates the source material and is complemented by wonderful technical aspects, Little Women takes on a life of its own and shows us the power of smart and talented women over the course of 135 minutes.
The film follows the March sisters, Jo (Ronan), Meg (Watson), Amy (Pugh), and Beth (Scanlen). Four young women who each have their own special sets of skills and talents. The film documents the journeys that these women go on as they explore these skills and also the world around them that prevents women from truly ever reaching their full potential. Even though this is an ensemble performance, the movie is told through the perspective of Jo, so Ronan’s performance is essential to the development of the movie. Fortunately, Ronan is a masterclass actress for someone her age and she handles this pressure with absolute ease. Already nominated for three Academy Awards at 25, Ronan knows the proper emotion to show in every one of her scenes. Whether this is the sensitivity and delicacy of some of the more emotionally draining scenes, the joy of being young and expressing yourself, or the pain of living in a world where women aren’t treated as equal, Jo’s character probably has the most depth to it and Ronan’s performance is the best as a result of that. While Ronan’s performance carries the film, you can tell how important Gerwig’s clear direction is to the success of this movie. From the way the script is adapted, to the way the characters are designed to interact with one another, you can tell Gerwig understands the source material of this movie and is talented enough to remaster it in a way that makes the material relevant for modern audiences. It helps when almost everyone involved is an elite member of their craft, but looking at Gerwig’s track record as a director you can tell movies like Little Women are the norm for her and not the exception. When you take legendary elements across all areas of movie making and combine them in the way Gerwig did here, at the very least you’re going to have a good movie, but she manages to make a great movie here. As we see more women in important roles across all areas of work, life, and culture, it’s important to remember that this wasn’t always a possibility and Little Women takes a story that was designed for audiences of a certain era and makes it palatable for those watching it today. Looking back at how bad things were for women of past generations, it puts the progress that’s been made into perspective and makes things hopeful for the future.
Overall, Little Women will more than likely end up racking up its fair share of awards and will be remembered as one of the year’s best movies when everything is all said and done. I don’t know if this will finally give Ronan her first Oscar win, but if it doesn’t she’s sure to be involved in something big in the future that will get her on the acceptance stage. Gerwig has taken the last few years and shifted her acting career into a prolific career as a director and I can’t wait to see what the future holds for her.
Overall Score: 8.5/10