Little Women is a delicate, poetic powerhouse. It’s my pick for best movie of 2019. Greta Gerwig, an actress turned director, is just magically gifted with her cinematic touch. She’s been overlooked for a Best Director Oscar nomination, which is unfortunate because Little Women shows Gerwig continuing to refine her directorial sensibilities, which include a delicate approach, and frankly, fearlessness.
Greta Gerwig revealed at a Q&A at the Egyptian Theater in Hollywood that she wanted to get “messy” with Little Women. Gerwig didn’t just direct the production, she also adapted the screenplay from Luisa May Alcott’s work (she is nominated for Best Adapted Screenplay). She described laying out the screenplay on the floor like a quilt to “physicalize” it. And the movie is a patchwork quilt sewn together in a way that time flashes forward and backward. With moments smashing into each other, it sweeps the audience along on the wild and messy but beautiful and delightful journey. It’s up to you, the audience member, to figure out where you are in space and time. It can be a little hard to keep up, but it’s worth the effort.
Gerwig described how she wanted the actors to talk over each other. Certain playwrights like Carol Churchill and Tony Kushner even mark off on the script where they want the actors to interrupt each other. The result is that the scenes feel so fresh and real, often funny and with a sense of urgency. Saoirse Ronan also, also present at the Q&A, said that she wanted to “get messy” with Jo March. Ronan and Gerwig enhanced Jo March’s character by incorporating elements of Alcott’s life and almost merging the two.
This isn’t just a journey about women. It’s a human journey, beautiful, touching, uplifting, inspiring. It’s what a period movie should be, timeless and relevant, without a hint of stuffiness, and certainly never boring.