For 150 years, readers have read and adored Little Women. Louisa May Alcott‘s timeless tale about the March sisters is a universal story of growing up, sisterhood and finding out who you are.
The new adaption, written and directed by Greta Gerwig, was released a couple of weeks ago.
Told in a non-linear narrative, the film starts as the girls are setting out on their own paths in life. Meg March (Emma Watson) is juggling marriage and motherhood. Jo March (Saoirse Ronan) has a day job as a private tutor and sells her stories to local newspapers. Beth March (Eliza Scanlen) remains content to be at home. Amy March (Florence Pugh) is in Paris and living with Aunt March (Meryl Streep) while she is pursuing her dream of becoming a painter.
The movie then flashes back and forth, from the present to the past. Growing up in New England during the Civil War, the girls are being raised by their mother, known as Marmee (Laura Dern) while their father fights for the North. Early in the story, Theodore “Laurie” Laurence (Timothee Chalamet) introduces himself to Jo. He is literally the boy next door and becomes Jo’s best friend.
Though some fans might disagree with Gerwig’s choice of narrative, I think it was a wise choice. Given the number of filmed adaptations of this beloved book, she chose to make her adaptation stand out because of that unorthodox narrative.
One of the things that impressed me about the film is how Amy is no longer a brat. In most adaptations and in the eyes of many fans, Amy March is disliked because she is spoiled and remains so throughout the book. But in this adaptation, Amy is spoiled like many youngest children are spoiled. But she also grows up into a woman who knows she wants, in spite of a world that would hold her back.
Anyone who has ever watched a film adaptation of their favorite book are likely to be disappointed. Changes to either character or narrative are certain. But Gerwig remains true to the text, retelling this beloved tale with a modern spirit and a reminder of why 150 years later, Little Women is a cherished novel.
Little Women is one of those books. It is the literary gateway drug that for many young bookworms (myself included). I remember reading an abridged version of the novel when I was around eleven or twelve. I loved it then and almost thirty years later, that love has blossomed into a life long affection.
The trailer for the reboot written and directed by Greta Gerwig was just released earlier today. Stepping into the iconic, universal and beloved roles of the March sisters are Emma Watson (Meg), Saoirse Ronan (Jo), Eliza Scanlan (Beth) and Florence Pugh (Amy). Supporting and sometimes bumping heads with the March girls are Marmee (Laura Dern), Laurie (Timothée Chalamet ) and Meryl Streep (Aunt March).
As a friend stated on Facebook, about this trailer and the film’s potential success, ” If anyone can top Winona’s Jo, is DEFINITELY Saoirse”. I have an incredible amount of love for the 1994 adaptation, but if this version can top that love, I will love this film forever.
Seeing a woman in the halls of power is relatively new in the course of human history. At best, in the past, women have been help-meets, wives and servants. At worst, they are disposable to relegated the background of history.
The new movie, Mary Queen of Scots (based on the book Queen of Scots: The True Life of Mary Stuart by John Guy) takes place in the 16th century, when two women ruled England and Scotland concurrently. Elizabeth I of England (Margot Robbie) has successfully ruled England without questions of her legitimacy to the throne. The only issue that she is without a husband and a child. Her cousin, Mary Stuart (Saoirse Ronan) has recently taken her place as Queen of Scotland after the passing of her first husband. She knows that she has to marry and bring a male heir into the world, but she is not willing to marry for the sake of politics.
Both Mary and Elizabeth wish for peace between their kingdoms, but the men who council both Queens are not content to bow before women, nor are they willing to let two women maintain a political friendship. Around them, the seeds of discord are being sewn. Will Mary and Elizabeth rule their respective countries in peace or will the interference of the men around them result in upheaval and violence?
It takes a certain kind of BPD (British Period Drama) to appeal to a wide range of audience members. While Mary Queen Of Scots falls squarely within the BPD genre, it has a specific message that appeals to a certain kind of audience member. While I very much appreciate the timely message of women in power and how we react/treat them, this film is a bit on the heavy side when it comes to the narrative.
Young love, as stories and songs have told us, is grand and wonderful. But even young love can have it’s problems.
In the new film On Chesil Beach (based on the novel of the same name by Ian McEwan), Florence (Saoirse Ronan) and Edward (Billy Howle) are newlyweds in England in the early 1960’s. Married just hours before, they have arrived at the Bed and Breakfast where they will be honeymooning. The film flips between the present at the hotel and the relationship that led to Florence and Edward’s vows. Both will quickly discover that the idealism of their pre-marriage relationship dissolves into an uncomfortable and life changing wedding night.
This movie is excellent. While some scenes could have been cut down for time, I very much appreciated the dichotomy between the main character’s pre-married life and post-married life. I also appreciated that this film showed the reality of romantic relationships, especially marriage. It takes work to maintain both and sometimes, it’s obvious that two people are not meant to be together, no matter how hard they try to make it work.
To say that human relationships are complicated is an understatement.
In the new film, The Seagull, based on the Anton Chekhovplay of the same name, Irina (Annette Bening) is an aging actress whose current significant other is Boris (Corey Stoll), a younger writer who is one of the most recognized writers in the country. Irina takes Boris to meet her brother, Sorin (Brian Dennehy), who lives on a country estate and is in poor health. Irina’s son, Konstantin (Billy Howle) lives with his uncle and wants to be a playwright. He is also in a relationship with Nina (Saoirse Ronan), a young girl from a neighboring estate. Nina develops a girlish infatuation for Boris, but he rejects her as Irina rejects her son.
I know nothing about Chekhov or his work. My review, therefore, is strictly based on the movie. The reason for seeing the movie was the cast. The problem with this movie is that while the cast is excellent, the narrative is slow and I found it hard to connect to the story.
The year before we graduate high school can often be described as trans-formative. Especially when we know that the last thing we want to do is going to college near home.
The new movie, Lady Bird, written and directed by actor/director/writer Greta Gerwig, is about Christine “Lady Bird” McPherson (Saoirse Ronan). Set in Northern California in 2002, Lady Bird is starting her senior year of high school and wants nothing more than to go to college out-of-town. She does not get along with her equally strong-willed mother, Marion (Laurie Metcalf) and has a decent relationship with her father, Larry (Tracy Letts). As the year goes on, both Lady Bird will learn a few things about life and relationships.
I really enjoyed this movie. I enjoyed it because Lady Bird’s character arc and narrative feels universal. The struggle to find herself, the need to get away from home, the arguments with her parents, it all feels normal for a 17 year old girl.
Ian McEwan’s 2003 novel, Atonement, opens with the following quote from Northanger Abbey:
“If I understand you rightly, you had formed a surmise of such horror as I have hardly words to—Dear Miss Morland, consider the dreadful nature of the suspicions you have entertained. What have you been judging from? Remember the country and the age in which we live. Remember that we are English, that we are Christians. Consult your own understanding, your own sense of the probable, your own observation of what is passing around you. Does our education prepare us for such atrocities? Do our laws connive at them? Could they be perpetrated without being known, in a country like this, where social and literary intercourse is on such a footing, where every man is surrounded by a neighbourhood of voluntary spies, and where roads and newspapers lay everything open? Dearest Miss Morland, what ideas have you been admitting?”
In the summer of 1935, 13 year old Briony Tallis is a budding writer with a vivid imagination. A vivid imagination that works for her writing, but does not work in real life. She witnesses an act between her elder sister Cecilia and Robbie Turner, the son of a servant who was also childhood friends with Cecilia. Not understanding what has transpired between Cecilia and Robbie, she accuses him of rape.
Flashing forward to World War II, Briony is now a young woman. She has begun to comprehend the mistake of accusing Robbie of rape and the effect it has on everyone around her. A third flash forward reveals Briony as an older woman, using her literary gifts to give Cecilia and Robbie the life that she stole from them.
In 2007, this book was turned into a movie with Saoirse Ronan as Briony at age 13, Romola Garai as Briony at age 18 and Vanessa Redgrave as the elderly Briony. Keira Knightley and James McAvoy played the separated lovers, Cecilia and Robbie.
I recommend both the book and the movie. The book is well written. The movie keeps close to the plot of the book and has a very nice cast.