Little Women is one of the classic stories of author Louisa May Alcott that seems to resonate with audiences as much today as it did over 100 years ago when it was published. For that reason, the story has been adapted into a movie several times before, and now it is time for the newest version of the story to be told. Based on the critics reaction that we're seeing this morning, this could be the best version yet.
Review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes currently marks the film, as of this writing, at 97% fresh. There is a single negative review currently posted to the site and literally everything else to be found is positive.
The new Little Women adaptation is written by Greta Gerwig, and she also directs the film. Following on Gerwig's Academy Award nominated success of Lady Bird, it's not at all shocking she's the one behind the camera for a story like this one. The Wrap is one of many that specifically praises her work in the new film, especially the way she balances the four women of the title, something few adaptations have done before.
What matters is the way that Gerwig tells it; most adaptations tend to focus on Jo to the exclusion of the other characters, but this time around, we get to know Amy, Meg and even Beth a little more than usual, which results in the third-act romantic pairings making more sense and feeling more organic than they have in other versions.
There are four sisters in Little Women and all four maybe important characters in their own right, but there are always going to be those roles that standout. In the case of this Little Women, it seems to be universally agreed that the high points are Saoirse Ronan's turn as Jo and Florence Pugh's Amy. Although, Forbes says there isn't a weak link in the cast.
Ronan and Pugh are bloody spectacular, per usual, and the rest of the cast levels up accordingly. The words come from the book, but the movie makes the music all its own.
That "music" seems to come largely in the way the new Little Women is constructed. Rather than being a strict retelling of the classic novel, Greta Gerwig's screenplay is told mostly in flashback. An adult Jo is working and trying to sell her stories to newspapers, and an attempt to draw on her own life for her work sees her looking back on the events that brought her, and her sisters, to where they are now.
Of course, while the movie may be about four women, it's also about the men in their lives. Timothy Chalamet plays Laurie, the man in Jo's life, repairing the duo that worked so well together in Greta Gerwig's Lady Bird. It seems that Chalamet has been giving Keanu Reeves a run for his money in the competition to be the internet's boyfriend, and according to USA Today, if you weren't swooning over him already, you will be by the end of this one.
And if you didn’t get the hype for Chalamet after Call Me By Your Name and Lady Bird, this’ll do it. He’s all floppy-haired charm and broody gravitas as Laurie, who busts out jerking dance moves with Ronan’s Jo that lean a bit futuristic at a Civil War-era shindig (but still are fun to behold).
The last time Greta Gerwig and Saoirse Ronan made a movie together there were a fair number of Oscar nominations thrown into the mix, and the film's end of the year release seems to confirm that such things could be in the cards here as well, with support this strong, it seems such things are quite likely.
The only downside appears to be that the rest of us have to wait to see a movie that is so good. Little Women opens on Christmas Day, so we have a month to wait.