Basically: Empowering? Check. Heartwarming? Check. Humorous? Check.
Summary: The coming-of-age of the March sisters.
I loved this movie. I loved this movie with a teary, full-on belly laugh. I have the advantage (or disadvantage?) of not really remembering all the details of the novel or the 1994 Winona Ryder version- basically knowing the checkpoints pretty well. It was more interesting to think about how the familiar events would be laid out. And it works! The book is pretty much chopped in half and woven together, showing the how of the past molding the future. The March sisters subtly evolve right before our very eyes and it’s a pure, heartwarming tale of sisterhood and the pains of growing up. I loved it! You will too. If you’re into those things.
I’d like to say that the one thing I do remember from the 1994 version is that Ryder runs off to meet Gabriel Byrne at the end and declare her love for him. I recall various parts of the story seemed to fold in on each other- almost in a compromising manner. We don’t quite get that here, and I very much appreciate this decision. The focus here (and rightfully so) is on the family and the dynamics between each of the sisters. Director Greta Gerwig is able to make every decision that the March sisters make seem very natural and something that was right before our very eyes. She made Amy, an entirely misunderstood and widely hated character, a heroine in her own right and deserving of her own conversation (brilliantly played by Florence Pugh- monster year). Her interpretation puts one and one together, showing how the March women evolve and function within the confines of the time period. They’re shown making decisions and being accountable for them, in a time when women otherwise had very little to themselves.
Gerwig knocks it out of the park, and it’s a shame her work wasn’t recognized for Best Director at the Oscars. The skillful reworking of the story, in addition to the excellent acting led by the always dependable Saoirse Ronan, thoughtful costuming, gorgeous cinematography- it’s just a lot of fun to watch. It’s not treated as a story so much as it is snapshots of a family, and there’s a rare authenticity that radiates off the screen- the cast seems to admire each other and get along in a manner that we don’t always get to see. It’s inviting- it feels like you’re a part of the family. And with that- when they laugh, we laugh; when they cry, oh boy. This movie certainly hits you in all the right feels.