You certainly don’t need us to tell you about the wonder that is director and writer Greta Gerwig’s Little Women. Only out since Christmas, the film has received rave reviews and impressive box office numbers. While a successful five-day run was no surprise with such strong early buzz; what was surprising was the movie being all but cut out of the Golden Globe nods. And even more disappointing… the Golden Globes Best Director category is all male, again, for the second year running. This despite the incredible female directing talent on display in 2019.
This year saw a fulsome lineup of strong female directors of acclaimed films that also included: Lulu Wang (The Farewell), Lorene Scafaria (Hustlers), Alma Har’el (Honey Boy), Melina Matsouka (Queen & Slim), Chinonye Chukwu (Clemency), Marielle Heller (A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood) and Olivia Wild (Booksmart). Just last week we spoke to director, Letia Clouston, about women filmmakers and why everyone should see these films. And if our word isn’t enough, click on every one of those links above to see some pretty awesome Tomatometer® numbers…the kind that make you WANT TO WATCH.
Back to Little Women. We saw the film and here is what we liked:
Greta Gerwig is the Real Deal
Always marching to the beat of her own drum (not too dissimilar to Greta’s character in Frances Ha), the actor/writer/director is a bright light. Her work has gracefully ranged from the solidly indie to the very mainstream. And Greta approached Little Women with the gravitas viewers would demand from a book adapted a half dozen times before. But what makes Greta a role model is in how she presents women in her films and the choices they make. She takes a fresh, truthful and aspirational approach. She shows you can be smart and goofy; pretty and awkward; lonely and self-reliant; like men, but hate the patriarchy… you can be you. And regardless of whether she receives an Oscar nod, Greta will cement herself as a leading female director with Little Women. So we look forward to much more from her (in fact, next up is a live-action Barbie movie that will need to be seen to believed).
A Feminist View of Men
One of the pleasantly surprising aspects of the 2019 Little Women adaptation is how the women rankle against inequality, while still adoring the men in their lives. The movie doesn’t shy away from the truths inherent to a time and society that doesn’t value a woman’s contribution. From Amy’s unabashed admittance to wanting to marry rich to Marmee’s sunny disposition colored by an honest admission of being angry every day; Little Women embraces the complexity and contradiction that comes from being women. But the men in the movie aren’t necessarily considered and talked about individually the same way the patriarchy is bristled about. The men face great disappointment too. Greta takes a fresh approach to highlighting both the inequality of sex and equality of disappointment in life.
The Movie is Beautiful
Little Women is beautiful. The non-linear story line knits together the present and the past that keeps the movie fresh. The dialogue and acting is fantastic. So for no other reason than its fun pace, great acting and wonderful cinematography, it’s worth seeing. And without giving away any spoilers, the end has one of the most fun nods and winks to the truths about love, success and compromise for women of that time (or any time).
A Reckoning Ahead: Male vs. Women Filmmakers
Are we facing a major reckoning? Why is it them versus us? Last week Vanity Fair reported that male award season voters skipped the screening of Little Women. So much for a fair and balanced consideration of nominees. And while no getting off the hook for voters; there are men that remember the book as something their sisters would read. But beyond this, there has been much additional discussion about the toxic masculinity on display in the movies that have garnered award nods this year. Coincidence or not, Trumpism or not, we seem chock-a-block with movies about pissed off men. IndieWire may have said it best:
It sounds crass, but welcome to 2019: toxic masculinity is having a moment. However, even as the term has gained traction in recent years — in large part thanks to the blatant misogyny and rage spirals of the 45th U.S. president — its provenance goes back almost three decades.IndieWire, Nov 5, 2019
A Power Couple First
With all the talk about male versus female filmmakers, it is quite ironic and maybe fitting that Greta may be up against her partner for an Oscar this year. Another much-applauded and beautiful movie out recently was Marriage Story, directed by Noah Baumbach. It would be the first time in history that a couple (Noah & Greta have been together since 2011 and have a son) would be going head-to-head at the Oscars if both are nominated.