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The initial batch of reviews are in for Greta Gerwig’s Little Women.
Gerwig directed and wrote the screenplay for the film based on Louisa May Alcott’s 1868 novel. The film focuses on the lives of main characters Amy, Jo, Beth and Meg as they navigate their young adulthood in the aftermath of the Civil War. The all-star cast features Meryl Streep, Laura Dern, Emma Watson, Saoirse Ronan, Florence Pugh, Eliza Scanlen and Timothée Chalamet. The film will hit theaters on Dec. 25.
The adaptation had a 96 percent score on Rotten Tomatoes as of Monday morning.
The Hollywood Reporter‘s David Rooney wrote that the film is “gratifying.” He added that Gerwig brings “freshness, vitality and emotional nuance to source material” that has been adapted multiple times. “Gerwig skillfully navigates the line between respecting the story’s old-fashioned bones while illuminating the modernity of its proto-feminist perspective, only occasionally leaning into speechy advocacy of a woman’s right to self-actualization beyond marriage,” Rooney wrote. He added that the cast “may be slightly bound by their canonical character types, but there’s lovely ensemble work here.”
After praising the individual performances, specifically Ronan, Pugh and Chalamet, Rooney added that the film is “pleasingly paced.” He concluded, “Gerwig has taken a treasured perennial of popular American literature and reshaped it for a new generation, which should give the captivating film a long shelf life.”
Kate Erbland of IndieWire also gave Little Women a positive review. The critic noted that while Gerwig “modernized the book’s timeless story in unexpected ways,” it’s clear the director has “affection for the original, and keenly aware of how the concerns of Alcott and the March sisters (loosely based on the author’s own family) have never quite abated, no matter the time.” Erbland wrote that Ronan’s performance was “vibrant,” while Pugh’s interpretation of Amy “has more dimension than we’ve seen in previous cinematic adaptations of Alcott’s book.” She added that Little Women has its flaws, including when Watson speaks with an American accent and that “a handful of characters aren’t given nearly as much dimension as the sisters.” Erbland concluded,”Gerwig’s Little Women offers its own delightful storybook polish, in its own unique terms, and what a comfort that is.”
Fionnuala Halligan from Screen Daily wrote that the film “knows its (female-skewing, festive-led) audience and plays aggressively to it.” Halligan added, “Apart from reconstructing the story as jigsaw narrative told in flashback, Gerwig’s Little Women is a determinedly conventional re-telling of a much-loved and oft-adapted classic.” While the critic wrote that Watson was “somewhat miscast,” Halligan praised Pugh for her performance as Amy. “Her scenes with Chalamet are more convincing, and her brush with the financial realities of life and the struggle to make a career are more relevant, even though she’s the spoiled baby sister of a century and a half ago,” she wrote.
Screen Rant‘s Molly Freeman wrote, “Gerwig’s Little Women weaves a stunningly heartfelt and achingly honest coming-of-age story with excellent performances from its entire cast.” Freeman added that “the love and care Gerwig put into adapting the stories of the March sisters is evident,” while “Ronan shines as the wonderfully brash and opinionated Jo March.” She also said that Pugh holds “her own alongside Ronan” and that Dern and Streep play “exceptionally strong main female cast, bringing warmth and cold sensibility.” While Freeman wrote that the film has some pacing issues, she concluded that Little Women “is a wonderful coming-of-age tale that will appeal to audiences of all ages.”
Similar to other critics, The Guardian‘s Peter Bradshaw gave Little Women a positive review. He wrote that the film has a “great collective vitality” and “devises a heartbreaking wish-fulfilment-versus-reality double sequence about Beth’s final illness that for a second will have you doubting what you remember.” Bradshaw also complimented the “great romantic chemistry between Ronan and Chalamet.” The critic concluded, “This is such a beguiling, generous film from Gerwig. There is a lot of love in it.”
USA Today‘s Brian Truitt wrote that “the acting performances are stellar across the board,” though Gerwig’s screenplay is “the biggest joy.” The critic added that “Ronan and Pugh are standouts, portraying the growth of their characters over time but also the combustible dynamic between Jo and Amy,” while Chalamet also gives a convincing performance as Laurie. “This Little Women is definitely for the girls who will invariably connect with the various March sisters, as they have for 150 years with the book and in quite a few other screen adaptations,” Truitt concluded. “But it’s also for anybody in need of a smart, satisfying classic retold by one of Hollywood’s essential voices.”
Scott Mendelson of Forbes wrote that Little Women is “a terrific movie” and “a worthy adaptation that can stand side-by-side with any other prior version.” After praising the structure of the film, Mendelson wrote, “Gerwig’s adaptation is a gloriously acted, visually scrumptious and often relaxing movie that is, and this is no small thing, a delightful time spent in excellent company.” He then applauded Chalamet’s performance as “an excessively agreeable Laurie,” while he wrote that Watson played the “most challenging” role. He concluded that Gerwig’s film is “a pleasure.” Mendelson wrote, “It is also an adaptation in the best sense of the word, creating its own variation of the text rather than slavishly replicating what’s come before for the sake of source fidelity. And while there are moments of tragedy and triumph, the film puts the emphasis on character interaction over plot and narrative.”
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