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Posts Tagged ‘Eliza Scanlen’

Emma Watson, Florence Pugh, Saoirse Ronan, Eliza Scanlen

“LITTLE WOMEN” My rating: B+

134 minutes | MPAA rating: PG

Each generation, apparently, gets its own cinematic “Little Women.” Count Greta Gerwig’s new version among the best.

Beautifully acted, classily mounted and delivering its emotional detonations with almost clocklike precision, this adaptation manages to do justice to Louisa May Alcott’s classic novel while viewing the tale through a protofeminist lens.

Gerwig lets us know what she’s up to in the opening scene, where aspiring writer Jo March (Saoirse Ronan) meets with a New York publisher to discuss her latest story.

“If the main character is a girl,” the bewhiskered editor (Tracy Letts) advises, “make sure she’s married by the end…or dead.  Doesn’t matter which.”

This is only the first of several moments in which the film takes aim at male privilege and arrogance in 19th century America (and, by implication, in today’s world).  Not that the film ever mounts a soapbox or goes strident.  Gerwig’s screenplay effortlessly incorporates a modern sensibility into the classic tale; it feels as if she discovered these  millennial attitudes  in the original story and merely amplifies them.

This “Women” is novel as well for its narrative juggling.  The film opens several years after the Civil War…the March sisters from Concord, Mass., are now young adults.

We’ve already seen Jo pursuing a career in the Big Apple.  We find sister Meg (Emma Watson) back in Concord; she’s married, a mother and struggling with money issues.  Little sister Amy (Florence Pugh) is in France studying painting under the watchful eye of their wealthy Aunt March (Meryl Streep, doing her best Maggie Smith).

There’s a fourth sister, Beth (Eliza Scanlen), whom we meet in the flashbacks that make up the bulk of the film.  (One of the great pleasures in Gerwig’s narrative sleight-of-hand is that we’re able to compare the mature women we first meet with their much more innocent selves seven years earlier.)

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