The term “Instant Classic” gets thrown around a lot, personally I hate that phrase, but when I walked out of the theater with the biggest smile on my face, that was my only thought. Not only had my high expectations been satiated, but they were shattered. Greta Gerwig , (who was absolutely robbed of any directing nominations) has such poise and ease behind the camera, a master painter who knew every stroke she was going to make.
The re-telling of Louisa May Alcott’s story with a few twists is perfect for this generation. As Jo March reflects back on her life growing up in Massachusetts with her three sisters, it is quickly apparent that Jo is a strong women who knows what she wants. Seeing her past and the many things that shaped her into who she was is absolutely mesmeric.
The cast is the best thing about the film, and there are many great things. Saoirse Ronan (Jo March) is 25 years old and with this role, has garnered her 4th Academy Award nomination. That is no small feat, she is truly one of the greatest actresses of her generation. She plays Jo as a powerful force of nature, she is hard then soft, open and then closed. A nuanced performance with well deserved attention. Florence Pugh (Amy March) brings her well known character some major depth and humanity, enough to make audiences connect with her. Emma Watson (Meg March) feels like she was born to be in period films, such ease in her acting makes her struggling mother role feel very familiar. Eliza Scanlen (Beth March) does the best she can to make her silly and sickly character one that hits the audience right in the feelings. These four sisters could not have been played by anyone else, they were all magnificent and really make this movie magical. Timothy Chalamet, Tracy Letts, Chris Cooper, Laura Dern, James Norton and Bob Odenkirk round out the cast of wonderful supporting characters.
Gerwig has given her audience a warm embrace. She uses every opportunity to bring art and beauty to her craft, whether it’s a specific camera move or two sisters on a wind swept beach, there is stunning photography captured here. With a score from Alexandre Desplat that is perfect for this sweeping classic, everything comes together as it should in an old tale that is perfectly written in our new time. This is certainly in the conversation for best of the year!