This spirited fourth major film adaptation of Louisa May Alcott’s (1832-1888) seminal “Little Women” (1868) is a refreshing, feisty, revamping of a tale that has everlasting appeal; its timelessness touching imaginations, one generation after another; director Greta Gerwig’s contemporary interpretation resonates with the pungency of twenty-first-century resolve adorned in the accoutrements of the nineteenth century; Concord, Massachusetts; severity of the Civil War (1861-65), scarcity of males leads to women’s emancipation; “Jo March” (immaculate, muscular performance by Saoirse Ronan) the second of the March girls, teaches and writes to keep the family financially afloat; “Meg” the eldest (Emma Watson’s maturity is astounding) an actor, lusts for an unattainable, unaffordable wardrobe (fashion is a subtle attribute, adding style and taste to the antebellum period); “Beth” (Eliza Scanlen) enigmatic pianist, cerebral, fades in vivacity but secures purity, as the third little woman; “Amy”, (wonderful Florence Pugh) petulant, spoiled, jealous, speaks to those of a multi-feminine household, trying to champion her elder sisters, takes adulthood to master her foibles and be herself. Laura Dern is impeccable as “Marmee” mother of the female quartet.
Impossibly beautiful, Timothee Chalmet, is “Theodore Laurie Laurence”; wealthy, indolent, wholly in sync with Jo, their electrifying scenes, exemplify Gerwig’s message of friendship transcending passion, are keen references to today’s relationships.
There’s a lush tangibility saturating the cinematography: snow, slush, rain soak one’s tactile sensibilities; mouthwatering, gorgeous, succulent bake goods, entice irresistibly; books and paper have a sculptural, revered heartbeat.
2019’s “Little Women’s” monumentality rests in its ambiguity; Gerwig’s intelligence, sagacity allows the viewer to surmise the conclusion, knowing the secret of a satisfied patron is the key to a successful production.