2019 Film Reviews – 70: Little Women [dir. Greta Gerwig; 2019]

Towards the end of this latest, mildly indie-flavoured adaptation of Little Women, Amy berates Jo for always pointing out the former’s flaws rather than appreciating her strengths. With that in mind, I ought to state that Gerwig’s take on the 19th century classic is handsomely-staged, warmly played and mostly engaging — there’s a generous, affectionate Ang Lee-esque, Sense & Sensibility glow over all the characters and settings. And yet the whole thing rarely takes flight, with much of the oh-so-sisterly banter lacking chemistry and coming across as stilted and scripted. It’s the two-person moments that work best – Laurie pouring his heart out to Jo; Beth telling her sister she’s not frightened of death – and show that while Gerwig may not have succeeded in conveying the pull of group dynamics on this occasion, she’s a keen observer of human subtleties and remains one of the most important young directorial forces of our time.


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