Movies

Movie review: ‘Little Women’

Despite fractured plot, adaptation captures what so many missed

By Rick Romancito
tempo@taosnews.com
Posted 12/29/19

You have to give a lot of credit to director Greta Gerwig. Not only did she helm one of the best cinema adaptations (among many) of Louisa May Alcott’s 19th century semi-autobiographical novel, she was also pregnant while shooting it and went into labor the day after she turned in her first rough cut of the movie.

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Movies

Movie review: ‘Little Women’

Despite fractured plot, adaptation captures what so many missed

Posted

You have to give a lot of credit to director Greta Gerwig. Not only did she helm one of the best cinema adaptations (among many) of Louisa May Alcott’s 19th century semi-autobiographical novel, she was also pregnant while shooting it and went into labor the day after she turned in her first rough cut of the movie.

It’s possible some of that maternal energy was funneled into the drive to create something wondrous but I, as a man, can only imagine. But, even to me, it is evident something was going on as this film expresses so much more than its audience’s desire to know what happens next to Alcott’s March sisters and their breathless efforts to remain “interesting forever.”

Gerwig’s approach gleans from the novel its essence – that of discovering who these young women are –  from the moment we first encounter them as teens living in a slightly impoverished neighborhood in Massachusetts at the end of the Civil War. Each one is a distinct character whom we get to know as closely as they know each other, thanks to the director’s attention to detail. Each is painted like an artist’s portrait, evoked in her own colors and expressions and yet connected in ways only sisters know.

There is Jo March (played by the always brilliant Saoirse Ronan), an impetuous quick-to-anger and yet sensitive-to-a-fault budding writer around whom the story is mostly built due to the creative intensity she pours into writing a book, which, to no surprise, is about her sisters and their intertwined lives. Meg March (Emma Watson) is “the pretty one” who follows traditional rules of society, essentially the opposite of Jo. These sisters are the eldest of the group.

Amy March (Florence Pugh) is a painter who longs to travel to Paris and become discovered as a great artist, but whose intellectual gifts are only just emerging and reveal themselves to be greater than even she understands. Beth (Eliza Scanlen) is a musician who excels at the piano, but who is more reserved than her sisters.

Maintaining authority over these young women is their mother, Marmie March (Laura Dern), who is struggling to keep their household together while her preacher husband (Bob Odenkirk) is off tending to soldiers in the war. Providing friendship and some romance is Theodore “Laurie” Laurence (Timothée Chalamet), son of a wealthy neighbor, Mr. Laurence (Chris Cooper). Holding court over them all is Aunt March (Meryl Streep) who provides the family’s moral center.

One quibble is that Gerwig uses a slightly fractured plot structure, rearranging Alcott’s story into parts that sometimes are a little confusing to understand. But, one way to follow the timeline is to watch Jo’s hair length. This is a great movie, though, one that will likely be enjoyed by a new generation of young women, hopefully, for what it says about the struggles and triumphs that have been endured over these many decades.

Tempo grade: A-

“Little Women” is rated PG for thematic elements and brief smoking.

It is screening daily at Mitchell Storyteller 7 Theatres, 110 Old Talpa Cañón Road. For show times, tickets and additional information, call (575) 751-4245 or visit storyteller7.com.

Also showing in Taos

Frankie

MPAA rating: PG-13 for brief strong language and some sexual material.

Taos Community Auditorium

Unfolding over the course of a late summer's day in the fabled resort town of Sintra, Portugal, this drama from director Ira Sachs follows three generations who have gathered for a vacation organized by the family matriarch (Isabelle Huppert).

In this fairy tale setting, husbands and wives, parents and children, friends and lovers — stirred by their romantic impulses — discover the cracks between them, as well as unexpected depth of feeling.

Co-stars include Brendan Gleeson, Marisa Tomei, and Greg Kinnear.

This film will be screened at 2 p.m. Sunday (Dec. 29), 7 p.m. Monday (Dec. 30), also at 2 p.m. Wednesday (Jan. 1) and at 7 p.m. Thursday and Friday (Jan. 2-3) at the Taos Community Auditorium, 145 Paseo del Pueblo Norte. For tickets and additional information, call (575) 758-2052 or visit tcataos.org.

Spies in Disguise

MPAA rating: PG for action, violence, and rude humor.

Mitchell Storyteller 7 Theatres

In this digitally animated film directed by Troy Quane and Nick Bruno, super spy Lance Sterling (Will Smith) and scientist Walter Beckett (Tom Holland) are almost exact opposites. Lance is smooth, suave and debonair. Walter is not.

But when events take an unexpected turn, this unlikely duo is forced to team up for the ultimate mission that will require an almost impossible disguise — transforming Lance into the brave, fierce, majestic pigeon. Walter and Lance suddenly have to work as a team, or the whole world is in peril.

Additional voice cast includes Rashida Jones, Ben Mendelsohn, Reba McEntire, and Rachel Brosnahan.

It is screening daily at Mitchell Storyteller 7 Theatres, 110 Old Talpa Cañón Road. For show times, tickets and additional information, call (575) 751-4245 or visit storyteller7.com.

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