|This article might be using a American English for its pagename. (December 2019)|
Little Women is a 2019 American coming-of-age period drama film written and directed by Greta Gerwig. It is the seventh film adaptation of the 1868 novel of the same name by Louisa May Alcott. The film stars Saoirse Ronan, Emma Watson, Florence Pugh, Eliza Scanlen, Laura Dern, Timothée Chalamet, Meryl Streep, Tracy Letts, Bob Odenkirk, James Norton, Louis Garrel, and Chris Cooper.
Little Women had its world premiere at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City on December 7, 2019, and was released theatrically in the United States on December 25, 2019, by Sony Pictures Releasing. The film received critical acclaim, and has grossed $205 million worldwide. Among its numerous accolades, the film received six nominations at the 92nd Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Actress (Ronan), Best Supporting Actress (Pugh), and Best Adapted Screenplay, and won for Best Costume Design. It also received five nominations at the 73rd British Academy Film Awards, winning for Best Costume Design, and two nominations at the 77th Golden Globe Awards.
Plot[edit | edit source]
In 1868, Jo is a teacher in New York City. She goes to an editor, Mr. Dashwood, and gets a story published subject to considerable editing, although she doesn't want her name on it. Her sister Amy, in Paris with their Aunt March, sees childhood friend Laurie and invites him to a party. At the party, she is angry at his drunken behavior, and he mocks her for spending time with a wealthy businessman, Fred Vaughn. In New York, Jo meets with Friedrich Bhaer, a professor infatuated with her, and he constructively criticizes her work. Jo takes it personally and breaks their friendship off.
In 1861 in Concord, Massachusetts, Jo and Meg go to a party where Jo feels like an outsider. She meets Laurie, the grandson of their neighbor Mr. Laurence, who feels the same way. Laurie is new to town and spent most of his life in Europe. They spend the evening together dancing around the house. When Meg injures her foot, Laurie helps to get the girls home and meets the March family.
On Christmas morning, their mother, "Marmee", persuades the girls to give their breakfast to their poor neighbor, Mrs. Hummel, and her group of starving young children. Upon returning home, the girls see their table full of food, provided by Mr. Laurence who saw them give away their breakfast, and a letter from their father fighting in the American Civil War.
Jo visits their Aunt March, who tries to persuade Jo to be a proper young lady and to marry rich. She invites Jo to Europe with her, which Jo eagerly accepts. During his Latin lesson, Laurie notices Amy standing outside crying, having been hit by her teacher for misbehaving in class (she drew a caricature of him), and invites her in before her family comes to take her home. The girls meet John Brooke, Laurie's tutor.
In the present, Laurie visits Amy to apologize for his behavior at the party. Later, he urges Amy not to marry Fred Vaughn, but to marry him instead. Amy is upset at being second for everything to Jo, including Laurie. Amy later turns down Fred's proposal only to learn that Laurie left for London. Meg confesses to her husband that she is tired of being poor, which makes him feel guilty of not being able to give her the things she wants. She quickly has a change of heart and tells him that she loves him anyway.
On Meg's wedding day to John Brooke, Jo tries to convince her to run away and claims Meg should be an actress, but Meg tells her she is happy getting married. Aunt March announces her trip to Europe but decides to take Amy instead of Jo, thinking of Jo as a lost cause. After the wedding, Laurie admits his feelings for Jo, but she insists she does not feel the same way, that they are too different and would drive each other crazy
In New York, Mr. Dashwood's daughters find the chapters of Jo's book and ask how it ends. He agrees to publish the book but finds it unacceptable that the main character was unmarried. Jo amends her ending so that the main character, herself, chases after Bhaer and stops him from going to California. She negotiates copyright and royalties with Mr. Dashwood. Jo observes as printers print her book, titled Little Women.
Later, Jo has inherited Aunt March's house and opened it as a school. Meg teaches acting, and Amy teaches art to the schoolchildren. Bhaer is also shown teaching children at the school. Laurie and Amy are shown with their daughter, Bess. The sisters celebrate their mother's birthday in the garden.
Cast[edit | edit source]
- Saoirse Ronan as Josephine "Jo" March
- Emma Watson as Margaret "Meg" March
- Florence Pugh as Amy March
- Eliza Scanlen as Elizabeth "Beth" March
- Laura Dern as Marmee March
- Timothée Chalamet as Theodore "Laurie" Laurence
- Meryl Streep as Aunt March
- Tracy Letts as Mr. Dashwood
- Bob Odenkirk as Father March
- James Norton as John Brooke
- Louis Garrel as Friedrich Bhaer
- Chris Cooper as Mr. Laurence
- Jayne Houdyshell as Hannah
- Rafael Silva as Friedrich's Friend
- Dash Barber as Fred Vaughn
- Hadley Robinson as Sallie Gardiner Moffat
- Abby Quinn as Annie Moffat
- Maryann Plunkett as Mrs. Kirke
- Edward Fletcher as Laurence's Servant
- Sasha Frolova as Mrs. Hummel
Production[edit | edit source]
Development[edit | edit source]
In October 2013, it was announced a new film adaption of Little Women was in development at Sony Pictures, with Olivia Milch writing the script, and Robin Swicord and Denise Di Novi serving as producers. In March 2015, Amy Pascal joined as a producer on the new adaptation, with Sarah Polley hired to write the script and potentially direct. Ultimately, Polley's involvement never went beyond initial discussions.
Casting[edit | edit source]
In June 2018, it was announced that Meryl Streep, Emma Stone, Saoirse Ronan, Timothée Chalamet, and Florence Pugh had been cast for the film in undisclosed roles. In July 2018, Eliza Scanlen joined the cast as well, and in August 2018, James Norton and Laura Dern also signed on to appear. Then, in the same month, Stone dropped out of the film due to scheduling conflicts with the press tour for The Favourite, and Emma Watson replaced her. In September 2018, Louis Garrel, Bob Odenkirk and Chris Cooper joined the cast in other roles. In October 2018, New Regency Pictures was announced as an additional financier on the film, and Abby Quinn joined the cast.
Filming[edit | edit source]
Principal photography began on October 5, 2018, in Boston, Massachusetts. Additional filming locations included Lancaster, Harvard University in Cambridge, Mass., the town of Harvard, Massachusetts, and Concord, Massachusetts. Harvard's Arnold Arboretum was used as a location to shoot a scene set in a 19th century Paris park. Filming wrapped on December 15, 2018. Saoirse Ronan stated that, as previously done with Lady Bird, Gerwig banned cell phones on the set.
Music[edit | edit source]
Release[edit | edit source]
Little Women had its world premiere at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City on December 7, 2019, and also screened as the opening film of the Rio de Janeiro International Film Festival on December 9, 2019. It was theatrically released in the United States on December 25, 2019 by Sony Pictures Releasing.
Marketing[edit | edit source]
On December 13, 2018, Emma Watson posted an on set photo on social media of herself with writer-director Greta Gerwig and co-stars Saoirse Ronan, Florence Pugh, Eliza Scanlen, and Timothée Chalamet. Six days later, Watson posted another on set photo of her along with Gerwig and co-star Laura Dern. On June 19, 2019, Vanity Fair released the first stills from the film. The official trailer for the film was released on August 13, 2019.
Home media[edit | edit source]
Little Women is set to be released digitally on March 10, 2020, and on Blu-ray and DVD on April 7, 2020.
Reception[edit | edit source]
Box office[edit | edit source]
In the United States and Canada, the film was released alongside Spies in Disguise and the expansion of Uncut Gems, and was projected to gross $18–22 million from 3,308 over its five-day opening weekend. The film made $6.4 million on Christmas Day and $6 million on its second day. It went on to debut to $16.8 million (a total of $29.2 million over the five-day Christmas frame), finishing in fourth. In its second weekend, the film grossed $13.6 million, finishing third. It then made $7.8 million and $6.4 million, respectively, the following weekends.
Critical response[edit | edit source]
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On review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 95% based on 382 reviews, with an average rating of 8.54/10. The website's critics consensus reads: "With a stellar cast and a smart, sensitive retelling of its classic source material, Greta Gerwig's Little Women proves some stories truly are timeless." On Metacritic, it has a weighted average score of 91 out of 100, based on 57 critics, indicating "universal acclaim". Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "A–" on an A+ to F scale, and viewers polled by PostTrak gave it an average five out of five stars.
Gerwig's direction was deemed notable for several reasons. Kate Erbland of Indiewire commended Gerwig for how she "modernized the book's timeless story in unexpected ways", while also maintaining an "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." She was also lauded for her screenplay, with Brian Truitt of USA Today dubbing her writing "a fantastic follow-up to her Oscar-nominated Lady Bird that makes Alcott's time and language feel effervescently modern and authentically nostalgic."
The cast was lauded for their collective acting, with one reviewer calling their work "stellar across the board." Although there were some concerns from critics about miscasting, the overall critics review for the ensemble cast was positive. While the performances of Watson, Dern and Streep as Meg, Marmie and Aunt March, respectively, were commended for bringing depth and empathy, as well as warmth and sensibility to their roles, Ronan, Pugh, and Chalamet earned the most praise for their acting. Ronan and Pugh's performances in scenes together were called by one source as "standouts, portraying the growth of their characters over time but also the combustible dynamic between Jo and Amy," with other reviewers in agreement. For their individual performances, they both were also given attention, where Ronan "shines as the wonderfully brash and opinionated Jo March" and Pugh's "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." Chalamet was praised for his "earnest and swaggering performance" as Laurie. Ronan and Chalamet were also noted for their "great romantic chemistry".
Top ten lists[edit | edit source]
Little Women appeared on many critics' year-end top-ten lists, among them:
- 1stTemplate:Snd Alonso Duralde, TheWrap
- 1stTemplate:Snd Kate Erbland, IndieWire
- 2ndTemplate:Snd Lindsey Bahr, Associated Press
- 2ndTemplate:Snd Dann Gire, Chicago Daily Herald
- 2ndTemplate:Snd Tom Gliatto, People
- 2ndTemplate:Snd Sandy Kenyon, WABC-TV
- 2ndTemplate:Snd Eric Kohn, IndieWire
- 2ndTemplate:Snd Kristy Puchko, RogerEbert.com
- 2ndTemplate:Snd Katie Rife, The A.V. Club
- 3rdTemplate:Snd David Ehrlich, IndieWire
- 3rdTemplate:Snd Todd McCarthy, The Hollywood Reporter
- 3rdTemplate:Snd Johnny Oleksinski, New York Post
- 3rdTemplate:Snd Allison Shoemaker, RogerEbert.com
- 3rdTemplate:Snd Caroline Siede, The A.V. Club
- 3rdTemplate:Snd Brian Truitt, USA Today
- 4thTemplate:Snd Ethan Alter, Marcus Errico, and Kevin Polowy, Yahoo! Entertainment
- 4thTemplate:Snd Manohla Dargis, The New York Times
- 4thTemplate:Snd Ann Donahue, IndieWire
- 4thTemplate:Snd David Edelstein, New York
- 4thTemplate:Snd Roxana Hadadi, The A.V. Club
- 4thTemplate:Snd Christy Lemire, RogerEbert.com
- 4thTemplate:Snd Peter Sobczynski, RogerEbert.com
- 5thTemplate:Snd Mark Dujsk, RogerEbert.com
- 5thTemplate:Snd Matt Goldberg, Collider
- 5thTemplate:Snd Tim Miller, Cape Cod Times
- 5thTemplate:Snd Catherine Shoard, The Guardian
- 5thTemplate:Snd Peter Travers, Rolling Stone
- 5thTemplate:Snd Stephanie Zacharek, Time
- 6thTemplate:Snd Don Kaye, Den of Geek
- 6thTemplate:Snd Noel Murray, The A.V. Club
- 6thTemplate:Snd A. O. Scott, The New York Times
- 7thTemplate:Snd Angie Han, Mashable
- 7thTemplate:Snd Bruce Miller, Sioux City Journal
- 7thTemplate:Snd Nell Minow, RogerEbert.com
- 7thTemplate:Snd Randy Myers, The Mercury News
- 8thTemplate:Snd Mike Scott, New Orleans Times-Picayune
- 8thTemplate:Snd Zack Sharf, IndieWire
- 9thTemplate:Snd David Sims, The Atlantic
- 9thTemplate:Snd Justine Smith, RogerEbert.com
- 10thTemplate:Snd Libby Hill, IndieWire
- 10thTemplate:Snd Tomris Laffly, RogerEbert.com
- 10thTemplate:Snd Alison Willmore, New York
Top 10 (not ranked)
Oscar snubs controversy[edit | edit source]
Despite the critical and commercial success of the film, critics were surprised that the film was snubbed for several major nominations during the 2019–20 awards season. Namely, the main complaint was Gerwig's failure to receive an Academy Award nomination for directing. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, which has nominated only five women for directing in its awards history, was criticized for not only overlooking Gerwig's directorial effort but the work of all female directors in 2019. Her lack of recognition was attributed by reviewers as part of a larger issue that "reinforces the film's assertion that creative women are not celebrated as much as their male counterparts." Critics also noted the lack of recognition for the film's production design and cinematography, as well as the makeup and hairstyling.
Accolades[edit | edit source]
The film has received numerous awards and nominations. At the 92nd Academy Awards, it received six nominations, including Best Picture, Best Actress (Ronan), Best Supporting Actress (Pugh) and Best Adapted Screenplay, and won for Best Costume Design in spite of taking great liberty with historical accuracy of the fashions and hairstyles featured. At the 25th Critics' Choice Awards, it received nine nominations, winning for Best Adapted Screenplay. The film also received five nominations at the 73rd British Academy Film Awards and two nominations at the 77th Golden Globe Awards, and was chosen by the American Film Institute as one of the top 10 films of the year.. Finally, Little Women has been nominated for Cinema for Peace most Valuable Film of 2020 and for the Award for Woman's Empowerment. 
References[edit | edit source]
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