Little Women

Little Women ★★★★★

Lady Bird is one of my favourite films of all time, it came at just the right time and hit just the right spots and immediately became one of those films I could jump into no matter what and feel something.

so when Greta Gerwig said that Little Women was maybe a more personal film to her than her debut, an almost autobiographical piece set in her hometown I was puzzled to put it lightly. how could this film I see so much of my life in from a director I've come to respect so much somehow be more personal than a story written by someone else 150 years ago. my excitement for Little Women never waned but for a time I was apprehensive, almost scared of it having that same usurping effect on me, making this story I love so much obsolete in a way I never thought it could be.

Little Women is not that film, it is anything but an affront to one's tastes, it's charming and funny and almost overwhelmingly sweet but never combative. it invites you into a world where things don't necessarily make sense but it feels like they might be ok and with that understanding of eventual security the smallest moments of drama are amplified tenfold, as if the whole world is on the line. these women's lives and loves and innermost feelings are not little, anything but. there is a constant wonderful undercurrent of respect where no thought is too small, no gesture inconsequential, everything matters here and once that clicks Little Women becomes so much bigger.

like Lady Bird and Frances Ha before it, Little Women is lead by a headstrong young woman who makes her way to New York determined to make something of herself and like those films it deeply understands both the emotional journey of leaving home and what it means to go back. that same tension is reflected in the film's general existence on two almost contradictory levels. the structure has this incredible, musical rhythm where questions are answered almost immediately but never exactly how you expect, with the exception of one scene that the film holds onto for as long as possible then drops when it could not be more devastating.

it feels more like different worlds than moments in time, the haze of childhood memories existing as a barrier between the two where emotions can only bleed one way and there is a great sense of tragedy in that. the film is incredibly nostalgic but that nostalgia comes at the cost of having to face that there is no going back.

it dawned on me as I made my way home that of course Little Women means something more to Greta Gerwig than Lady Bird and I don't know how I didn't see it sooner. there is nothing like seeing yourself in someone else's story, and I should have known, because I saw myself in hers. what becomes immediately apparent is the love Greta Gerwig has for this story, for these characters and their world, the kind of love that comes from the questions we ask ourselves about stories that we never want to leave.

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