Richard joins CP24 to have a look at the weekend’s new movies including the “Little Women,” the war epic “1917,” the courtroom drama “Just Mercy,” the animated spy flick “Spies in Disguise” and Adam Sandler’s surprising work in “Uncut Gems.”
Richard sits in on the CTV NewsChannel to have a look at the weekend’s big releases including the latest remake of “Little Women,” the war epic “1917,” the courtroom drama “Just Mercy” and Adam Sandler’s surprising work in “Uncut Gems.”
Director Greta Gerwig keeps the bones of Louisa May Alcott’s “Little Women” in the new big screen treatment of the 19th century story, but reshapes the March sisters’ coming-of-age in fresh and exciting ways.
Set at the time of the Civil War, the eighth film adaptation of the tale sees the March’s, debutant Meg (Emma Watson), strong willed Jo (Saoirse Ronan), sickly and sweet Beth (Eliza Scanlen) and self-centerd Amy (Florence Pugh), with mother Marmee (Laura Dern), living a threadbare existence. The war has stripped them of whatever money they once had but they remain committed to charity—helping a destitute family down the road—and one another as they wait for the return of their father (Bob Odenkirk) from the battlefield.
As the story jumps through time their lives intersect with Theodore ‘Laurie’ Laurence (Timothée Chalamet), a charming, wealthy lay-about neighbor who has designs on Jo, his millionaire uncle (Chris Cooper), acid-tongued Aunt March (Meryl Streep) and Mr. Dashwood, the terse-talking newspaper publisher.
Told on a broken timeline, “Little Women” forgoes the linear structure of the novel to jump back-and-forth in time. It’s a clever device that takes some getting used to—at first it’s not immediately obvious the story is skipping around like a flat rock skimming across a lake—but ultimately it provides insightful perspective on the characters and why they make the decisions they do. Gerwig has fiddled with the story’s collision of feminism, romance and family dynamics just enough to amplify its resonance for a modern audience. Playing around with a well loved and well-worn classic is risky, but Gerwig pulls it off with panache, aided by an extraordinary cast who bring the material to vivid life.
As a collective the cast of “Little Women” are as finely tuned as the piano Beth practices on, pitch perfect with no sour notes.
Chalamet, reteaming with Ronan and Gerwig after the success of “Lady Bird,” drips charisma as the foppish and devoted friend/love interest Laurie. He’s equal parts awkward and arrogance, putting a new spin on a character that’s been played by everyone from Peter Lawford to Christian Bale.
Streep and Letts drop in for some comic relief but it is the chemistry between the sisters that is the film’s biggest success. Previous adaptations have tilted in Jo’s favor, giving her the most screen time and the juiciest character arc. Gerwig recalibrates, allowing each of the sisters to shine. The story still revolves around Jo’s interactions with each of the women, but here each of them push the story forward. Watson beings kindness and empathy to Meg. In Scanlen’s hands Beth is sweetly realistic about her lot in life. Ronan and Pugh leave the largest impression, imprinting the tale with their steeliness, humor and humanity.
“Little Women” is a rarity. It’s an adaptation of an often told tale that manages a rethink while still holding true to what made the source material so beloved.
A weekly feature from from ctvnews.ca! The Crouse Review is a quick, hot take on the weekend’s biggest movies! This week Richard looks at “Lady Bird,” “Daddy’s Home 2” and “Murder on the Orient Express.”
On paper the teen angst of “Lady Bird”—teen heartbreak, mom issues and blossoming sexuality—sounds like something we’ve seen before. “Where’s Molly Ringwald?” you might ask. And yet, though this may be well-trod ground, writer-director Greta Gerwig’s semi-autobiographical look at her California upbringing hits the ground running. It feels fresh, simultaneously heartfelt and spirited.
(NOTE TO READER: This synopsis does not do the movie justice. Feel free to skip the next two paragraphs.)
Saoirse Ronan is Christine McPherson, a Catholic School teen who goes by the name Lady Bird. “Lady Bird. Is that your given name,” Father Leviatch (Stephen Henderson) asks. “It is,” she replies. “I gave it to myself.” She lives in Sacramento—“The Midwest of California.”—with mother Marion (Laurie Metcalf), unemployed father Larry (Tracy Letts) and two adopted siblings. She’s a theatre kid who, along with her best friend Julie (Beanie Feldstein), performs in plays, plan for their future college careers and develop crushes on cute classmates.
Lady Bird learns about life and love through dalliances with two boys; the sweet natured Danny (Lucas Hedges) and edgy rocker dude Kyle (Timothée Chalamet). The key relationship in her life, however, is her mother. The two are deeply connected yet cannot see eye-to-eye, especially when it comes to Lady Bird’s choice of university.
Gerwig’s skilful handling of the story of Lady Bird’s busy senior year works not just because it’s unvarnished and honest in its look at becoming an adult but also, in a large degree, to Ronan’s performance. I have long called her ‘Lil Meryl. She’s an actor of unusual depth, a young person (born in 1994) with an old soul. Lady Bird is almost crushed by the weight of uncertainty that greets her with every turn—will her parents divorce, will there be money for school, will Kyle be the boy of her dreams, will she ever make enough cash to repay her parents for her upbringing—but Ronan keeps her nimble, sidestepping teen ennui with a complicated mix of snappy one liners, hard earned wisdom and a well of emotion. It’s tremendous, Academy Award worthy work.
“Lady Bird” bangs familiar gongs but Gerwig and Ronan, with ample help from the supporting cast, help those notes resonate loudly and clearly. The material is tenderly observed on both sides of the camera, imbued with a refreshingly genuine point of view.