A poor response from the major awards institutions is not enough to dampen the brilliance of Gerwig’s second film.
During awards season there is always likely to be controversy surrounding the lack of female directors nominated for deserving roles. Many have made clear why Greta Gerwig, director of hit film Little Women, is so deserving for a second Oscar nomination, and as pointed out on various twitter threads, there may be a case in which award ceremonies seek out male filmic techniques rather than the seamless, character-driven style of filmmaking which Gerwig does so well. Only five female directors have ever been nominated for an Oscar in the best director category, which makes films like Little Women ever more necessary. Florence Pugh, who was perfectly cast as Amy, expressed her upset at the snub – “I’ve been saying this all along: Greta made a film about women and relationships with money and working in a man’s world, and this highlights it. I don’t know what the solution is, I don’t know how to solve it. Also this year we had the most films written, produced and directed by women, so it’s not like there isn’t content out there — there is. We have to adjust.” It seems strange for a film to get so much praise without recognition for the director. Do critics really believe that a film could be director-less?
Greta Gerwig’s adaptation of the Louisa May-Alcott novel Little Women has received glowing reviews from critics, including a 95% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The film flows back and forth effortlessly through time, helping the viewer to connect with and understand each character in their own unique fashion. With this emphasis on the individual narratives of the sisters, we garner a much deeper understanding of Amy’s character than we received 1994 adaptation, which I – funnily enough – remember despising when I was younger.The atmosphere of Little Women oscillates between harsh winters and the warmth of the March household, creating a comfort which encompasses both the characters and the audience. Gerwig explained how they played with the colour palettes between the March house and that of the Laurence’s next door. The impersonal hues of grey and blue in the much more upper-class household of Theodore Laurence (played in a star turn by Timothee Chalamet) creates a clear display of the detachment that this house has from emotion and the warmth of family which is so present in the red and orange glows of the central women’s home.
Each of the performances by Saorise Ronan, Emma Watson, Florence Pugh, and Eliza Scanlen deserve a review of their own, and the casting perfectly highlights the expanse of exciting young actresses currently on the scene. This is especially clear in Florence Pugh’s portrayal of Amy, she expertly creates sympathy from the audience, something which hadn’t been touched on in previous adaptations. A clear message in this film is the importance of each woman’s choice of life path – as long as it is her own choice. As Meg March says, “Just because my dreams are different than yours doesn’t make them unimportant.”
I think, if anything, the outrage from the cast and audience over Gerwig’s Oscar snub enhances the film’s message even more, and shows how far we still have to go for women to get the recognition they deserve in the arts.