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Wilson Webb

Every hater on my block asked why we needed another Little Women movie when the 1994 version is “perfectly fine” and “has Winona Ryder in it.” My answer: You don’t know how good you can have it! You don’t know how good Little Women can be, you poor fools! A less inflammatory reason is that every generation deserves its own damn Little Women and we are a bunch of lucky suckers that get to see director Greta Gerwig’s version on the big screen.

Gerwig’s Little Women is Romance-era-oil-painting gorgeous, but it’s also realistic, thanks to the performances of the film’s star-studded cast of March sisters: Saoirse Ronan as Jo, Emma Watson as Meg, Florence Pugh as Amy, and Eliza Scanlen as Beth.

Directing her actors to talk over each other, Gerwig turns family scenes into rampaging rivers of voices, while also making sure nothing is lost in the chaos. We see the Marches as we see many families: A force bursting into a room.


Directing her actors to talk over each other, Gerwig turns family scenes into rampaging rivers of voices, while also making sure nothing is lost in the chaos. We see the Marches as we see many families: A force bursting into a room.


Far from seeing that power restricted to the four sisters, Laura Dern—for the first time in cinematic history—gives the girls’ mother a full personality. And when the girls’ father turned out to be universally beloved Bob Odenkirk (!) my friend straight-up punched me in the arm because she was already crying and couldn’t talk.

Gerwig’s arrangement of the story is also perfectly done: The film opens with Jo as a tutor, living in New York and selling stories about murder and revenge (which is what Little Women author Louisa May Alcott did in her 30s). The story jumps into the past, at corresponding moments, to reveal the sisters’ times together. When Jo travels home for a visit, past and present pair and swap—again, without becoming confusing—around one of the film’s many climaxes.

But some of the film’s most hauntingly moments are brief and mundane—like that of Jo and her trusted friend Laurie (Timothée Chalamet) dancing in the dim light outside a ball, which also keeps with a recurring visual motif of the March girls spilling from sources of illumination into darkened rooms.

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I loved Gerwig’s Lady Bird so much that I went into Little Women with trepidation. Making a follow-up to a movie everyone loved is tricky! But Little Women also contains one of the only realistic montages of novel writing that I’ve seen in a film—pages spread and covering the attic floor, Marmee leaving food at the top of the attic stairs, Jo wearing long johns and an overcoat (as you do)—which tells me that Gerwig knows what it is to work her brains out on a project. So sit back and enjoy the fruits of her labors. We’re lucky to live in the Era of Gerwig.


Little Women opens Wed Dec 25 at various theaters.