Director: Greta Gerwig
Writers: Greta Gerwig, Louisa May Alcott (based on the novel by)
Stars: Saoirse Ronan, Emma Watson, Florence Pugh
I waited to publish this list until I saw Little Women. And that decision proves more and more wise the longer I sit with it. Greta Gerwig captures emotion in film as if she invented it. Similarly to my observation about how The Irishman is more than it may seemingly appear, Little Women presents far more raw, earnest brilliance than you may grasp in a passing glance or a trailer. We’ve all seen the Oscar-baity period piece with respectable actresses (doesn’t it always seem to be Keira Knightley? She’s brilliant but like…) with posh language and extravagant gowns.
We exit the theatre a little let down thinking, “I’ve seen this before”, and so we say to each other on the way out things we’d never think to say, like, “really strong production design,” or, “definitely felt authentic”. This is not that movie. Little Women is a timeless examination of intimacy. With just a line of dialogue, Gerwig is able to tether you entirely to the journey of her characters, a journey that feels like a path you’ve walked yourself. A struggle to connect or feel important or feel desired or give love. And through all of it you inherently come to understand that you’ve known these women your entire life. Through their tumultuous, childhood innocence all the way through their oppressive present.
The performances uncovered from this rambunctious group are among the year’s best, not just in their passionate devotion to the text but also their experimental desire to fight for something with their entire soul. In this way, it feels the natural assessment to address Gerwig as the next Cassavettes: director/writers that understand their stories thoroughly enough to allow others to experiment with them, knowing full well that with their guidance, a long leash will inevitably guide their troupe on the road home. Were I to name flaws (and of course I must otherwise my own OCD would crucify itself), they would be akin to some of Cassavettes best work. Gerwig is more concerned with performance than continuity (hardly a critique, I know), and I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention there was one casting choice that distances itself from the proper vision of what it ultimately is trying to achieve. But what does it matter? When I finally perfect this list and decide to publish it to the 10’s of people that may glance upon it, Little Women is likely the film I will run the theatre to go and see and cry at again. 9.7/10