Combustible Celluloid
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With: Saoirse Ronan, Emma Watson, Florence Pugh, Eliza Scanlen, Laura Dern, Timothée Chalamet, Tracy Letts, Bob Odenkirk, James Norton, Louis Garrel, Jayne Houdyshell, Chris Cooper, Meryl Streep
Written by: Greta Gerwig, based on the novel by Louisa May Alcott
Directed by: Greta Gerwig
MPAA Rating: PG for thematic elements and brief smoking
Running Time: 135
Date: 12/19/2019

Little Women (2019)

3 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Misted Sisters

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

At least three major filmed versions of Louisa May Alcott's 1868 novel Little Women already exist; the 1933 George Cukor version and the 1994 Gillian Armstrong version are both excellent (I haven't yet seen the 1949 version with Elizabeth Taylor and Janet Leigh). But given the episodic nature of the novel, movie adaptations based on Alcott are lower-key, and overall less stuffy than most literary movies, and it's always a pleasure to see a new attempt. Writer and director Greta Gerwig (Lady Bird) adds a new version that's gentle, compulsively watchable, and satisfying. She makes a cursory attempt to justify her version in sequences where aspiring author Jo March (Saoirse Ronan) meets with an editor (Tracy Letts), who tells her the "rules" to which women's fiction must adhere; Gerwig breaks those rules, of course, partly by telling the story out of order. Little Women (2019) may not supplant the previous versions, but it's good enough to stand alongside them. Emma Watson co-stars as Jo's eldest sister Meg, Eliza Scanlen plays musician Beth, and Florence Pugh plays artist Amy. The heavy-lidded Timothée Chalamet plays Laurie, Laura Dern is warm and wise as Marmee, and Bob Odenkirk is the largely absent Mr. March.

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