One of the films that received a Best Picture nomination at the 2020 Oscars is indeed a very good film. It becomes understandable why Greta Gerwig as director is considered to have been ignored by the academy, because with a work like this, she really deserves to be nominated. Little Women is a film that closes 2019 on a sweet note.
I haven’t read the novel Little Women written by Louisa May Alcott (which is a semi-biography of Alcott himself), nor have I watched the big screen adaptation which was made in 1994. So I can’t make a comparison with those versions. But just looking at this 2019 version, I get the impression of a ‘modern’ film for a drama film with a backdrop of the American Civil War era.
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This modernity can be felt from the presentation of a non-linear narrative by Gerwig. Time skips here and there may seem foreign to some audiences, but for me it doesn’t bother me, this is precisely where the strength of this film lies. The narrative fabric that is formed in such a way through the plot that jumps from the present to the past and vice versa, supports the strengthening of the exploration of the characters in this film which is not small. So in the duration of the film which is only 2 hours, all the main characters can be built strong, detailed and fair. And in the end, the narrative strands can blend perfectly and provide a strong ending.
This film follows the lives of four girls from the March family: Meg, Jo, Amy and Beth. The narrative is built centered on Jo, but the other characters still have important roles in the storyline. These four girls live a simple life under the care of their mother, who is called ‘marmee’, while their father is on the battlefield. In the dynamics of their lives, the characters of Laurie and her grandfather, their wealthy neighbors, emerge. Laurie has a crush on Jo, and she is close to these four girls. In addition, there is also Aunt March who is rich and charismatic with her trademark chatter.
These four girls, the ‘little women’, were played very well by the actresses who played them. But the characters Jo and Amy are the most prominent. No wonder Saoirse Ronan, who plays Jo, and Florence Pugh, who plays Amy, were nominated for best actress and best supporting actress at the Oscars yesterday. In addition to the non-linear narrative, the acting of these actresses is also the main strength of this film.
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Besides that, I also need to appreciate the screenplay of this film. Unfortunately, Greta Gerwig didn’t get an award after being nominated for the best screenplay adaptation at the last Oscar. The dialogues that are spoken are able to land well, not artificial, the language is quite simple but able to convey the message clearly. One example is how Amy conveyed her thoughts: Well. If we had children they would belong to him not me. They would be his property. An extraordinary conclusion for a feminist spirit is not it?
As a story about ‘becoming an adult’, this film does speak a lot from a woman’s point of view. Struggles and difficulties as a woman become a fairly central theme in this film. Little Women cleverly works all these difficulties into a hopeful conclusion, without being overly dramatic and contrived. As written by The Gospel Coalition: Little Women wrestles. It wrestles with various aspects of the human condition—and of being a woman in particular—that transcends its characters and its time. In the end, the main message of this film for me is about love and hope. To love and be loved requires commitment and sacrifice. Loving here is not only loving others, but also loving what we do, such as our work. Surely by loving and being loved, hope will always be there.