In Greta Gerwig 2019 non-linear, deconstructed version of Little Women, we are first introduced to Jo March (Saoirse Ronan), frantically going about her business. She goes to a publishing house trying to sell her short stories to the most cliched of New York publisher, Mr. Dashwood (Tracy Letts), for a below-average price, because…”woman!” This man is the one who, as expected, will eventuality “like” what she is selling – her book, Little Women – but he wants her to change her stories to be supposedly more appealing to a broader audience, because…”money”! Of course, it means having the female protagonist/heroine (who is also movie Jo modeled after the Alcott) being married or dead at the end. And, of course, Jo is outraged!
She wants to make it big in the literary world no matter the consequences (even if it involves bending her/the writer’s truth). So she goes back home to polish her work, and this is when viewers are transported, via flashbacks, to the bulk of Little Women‘s story as most know. We follow the March sisters from childhood to womanhood—which, let’s remember, at that time meant teen years. There is the elegant, older and grounded Meg (Emma Watson), the wannabe writer and allegedly tomboy Jo (Gerwig muse Lady Bird‘s Ronan), the one who gets sick and plays piano, Beth (Eliza Scanlen), and lastly, Amy (Florence Pugh) the most beautiful of them all.
“…trying to sell her short stories to the most cliched of publisher…for a below-average price, because…’woman!’“
At first, she is, apparently, “feisty” but then becomes the most rational of them all! There is also Laura Dern as Marmee, going against type from her Marriage Story or Big Little Lie roles—as in not playing a brash privileged white woman oozing sex-appeal in pricey designer dresses and who will ‘not NOT be rich.’ A modern-day Amy right here! She portrays the mother of four in the blandest “old-timey” motherly way. Marmee is someone who says, ‘they are angry all the time,’ but one might wonder, “really? Why!?!”
Another important character is, teen-heartthrob and “Civil-war era hipster” with his unbuttoned sleeves, rather unusual stylish fashion, and casual debonair style: Timothée Chalamet (let’s not forget he also brought us the “Shakespearian hipster king” in, well, The King) He plays the neighbor, a rich-kid who is almost everyone’s love interest! He lives with his “loaded” uncle (Chris Cooper), who seemed defined solely as the affluent man who lost his daughter. Accordingly, he becomes the March’s benefactor since they have a daughter who reminds him of his own dead daughter. Little Women also found a way to include another hipster-looking French dude played by Louis Garrel (it appears Gerwig has a “man muse” type). He plays Friedrich Bhaer, Jo’s coworker, the awkward, reasonable, but brutally honest character. And last but not least, Meryl Streep is here to save the day as the obscenely rich, no-nonsense March’s great aunt. She is self-proclaimed “forever single lady,” and she can… because: ‘I’m rich,’ she says!). One would not be wrong to think that Streep is channeling Maggie Smith’s Dowager Countess from Downton Abbey with epic one-liners, fabulously ironic repartee, and blazing chemistry with her “Lady Mary like” niece Amy!