Little Women is a ‘formidably groovy’ adaptation of epic proportions

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Film & TV Editorial Team

With award nominations and accolades flying, Greta Gerwig’s Little Women (2019) has achieved the highest possible recognition: Epigram Film & TV’s seal of approval. We have gathered the Editorial Team’s biggest fans for a completely unbiased review of the film of the decade…

Leah Martindale

Film & TV Editor

I arrived at the cinema alone, knowing that the shame of publicly bawling in front of my friends would be a moment I could never come back from. From the opening scenes I was a blubbering mess: enraptured by the stunning visuals, the genius interweaving of the plot, and the wonderful characterisation of the March sisters and associates. This film was easily the most charming and uplifting of the year, if not the decade, and it would take a hideously stubborn person to deny this simple fact.

The four sisters are embodied masterfully by the actresses, transcending ages | IMDb / Wilson Webb

Of course it is a triumph to once again see Lady Bird’s (2017) Saoirse Ronan and Timothee Chalamet butting heads, this time as the childhood friends and later misfortuned lovers Jo and Teddy. Ronan carries the script on capable shoulders and embodies the fiercely modern period piece seamlessly. Harry Potter (2001-11) star Emma Watson shines in an unfamiliar role for her as the big sister and pseudo-mother figure, Meg, despite an unfortunate American accent.

This soaring adaptation breathes fresh air into source material that is already distinctly modern in its own way

Relative newcomer Eliza Scanlen embodies the sickly, shy Beth with a heart-breaking bittersweetness. However, particular note must go to Oscar nominated Florence Pugh, best known previously for her role as Dani in the devastating but beautiful Midsommar (2019). Her characterisation of Amy, from know-it-all pre-teen to heartbroken early-twenties, jealous, in love, coddled and contrived, transcends all age restrictions and seamlessly becomes anything the script requires and more. She is easily the cherry on the cake of perfection that is this beautiful cinematographic trip.

Louie Bell

Film & TV Deputy Editor

The art of directing a period piece is far from putting actors in fancy clothing and getting them to spout stuffy dialogue. What a truly convincing adaptation of a classic novel needs is heart and soul, a belief in the authenticity of the characters and the understanding to make it relevant to modern audiences. What a sigh of relief, therefore, that Greta Gerwig’s Little Women has this in oodles. Like a crisp morning breeze, this soaring adaptation breathes fresh air into source material that is already distinctly modern in its own way.

Ronan embodies the distinctly modern classic character of Jo March with Gerwig's expert direction | IMDb / Wilson Webb

Effortlessly moving back and forth in the story, Gerwig’s use and understanding of how to use and manipulate time in a story is the highlight of this adaptation for me. Framing stories within stories, heartbreak within joy, love within loss; a somewhat non-linear approach demonstrates its modernity by breaking so many of the rules that have come to define - and constrain - period adaptations. Our hearts collapse in sorrow as tragedy strikes, only to swell as we see our characters rise up stronger.

Female film icons: Greta Gerwig

Little Women is a work of genius from which the director’s love for the story radiates through every moment. It’s so uplifting just to be part of this world for a couple of hours, it’s no wonder everyone I’ve spoken to about the film remarked something along the lines of ‘I just want to live in that world for a while’. That is a tough thing to do, and above all else the mark of a world-class filmmaker. Bravo Greta! I’ll be joining the line of those queueing up at the DVD release for endless encores.

Daisy Game

Entertainment Sub-Editor

Greta Gerwig’s films never fail to serve up visual attitude of formidably groovy personality: Frances Halladay skipped down a gloriously monochrome New York sidewalk, Lady Bird (Christine) McPhearson sauntered between the poplars of a glittering and golden Sacramento neighbourhood - but Little Women ramps up the glory that is The Gerwig Aesthetic to a whole… new… level...

The girls' sisterhood is captured and expanded upon expertly by the costuming and set design | IMDb / Wilson Webb

First up: let’s talk costume, designed by Jaqueline Durran - the mastermind behind the wardrobes of other period flicks Pride & Prejudice (2005), Atonement (2007), and 2020’s triumphant 1917. Our ensemble of sisters ramble about their shifting landscape clad in a muddle of skirts and trousers; tam o’shanter hats and all engulfing scarves. Jo kicks about the hills and city boarding houses in handsome heavy-velvet waistcoats and berry-red capes; bloomers-for-trousers and stomping-leather-boots for shoe.

Florence Pugh is easily the cherry on the cake of perfection that is this beautiful cinematographic trip

The men look equally spectacular: lovely Laurie wafts to and fro in shirts of the billowing kind - often allowed to float free, but otherwise tamed beneath layer upon layer of waistcoat and necktie and enviably floppy long-length outerwear. Durran’s ability to externalise character in the form of cloth is a truly remarkable thing - we see Jo’s tomboyish inclinations in and through her stubborn, aptly askew jackets; we see Amy in her fur collars and extreme-circumference skirts, and the love-sick-Laurie in his mess of just-who-am-I-playing-today layers.

Jess Gonchor’s production design comes-up-roses on the set side of things also. The March house, filled to the ceiling and beyond with wooden floorboards, softly cushioned chairs and perfectly cluttered surfaces - with writing scrawled papers and buckets of foot-impressioned-cement littered beneath the sofas and the kitchen table - is a bohemian jumble of complete wonder.

Gerwig's world is expertly crafted and heartbreakingly out of reach for loving audience members | IMDb / Wilson Webb

The idea that I myself will never bound up the stairs and into the March sisters’ attic breaks my heart on an average of fifty two times a day; this private alcove of sibling squabbles and artistic pursuit, set amidst costume-stuffed-chests and rafter flung flower garlands.

2020 Onscreen

Gerwig’s Little Women is a world of gleefully bickering sisters and gently reprimanding mothers; returning fathers and surrogate brothers - Mr. Chalamet/Lawrence, I’m looking at you. It is comfort and heartbreak, art and family, fighting and loving. If only we could all stay there - tucked amongst the papers and paintings and pianos - for just a little while longer.

Featured: IMDb / Wilson Webb - © © 2019 CTMG, Inc.


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AUTHOR

Leah Martindale

Part-time Film & Television MA student; full-time Instagram storier, and ABBA enthusiast; amateur film critic. Can always be found writing from bed.