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Review: Director Greta Gerwig puts a somewhat modern spin on a classic American tale

COLUMBIA PICTURES - 'Little Women' features a star-studded cast that includes (from left to right) Emma Watson, Florence Pugh, Saoirse Ronan and Eliza Scanlen as the March sisters.

A nominee for Best Picture that is wholly deserving of victory, director Greta Gerwig's adaptation of "Little Women" is a joyous triumph.

The emotional depth of the characters, stellar acting by a terrific ensemble and the visual dazzle of the sets and costumes make for a thoroughly enjoyable theater experience.

This version of the classic story – originally written by Louisa May Alcott – follows Jo March (Saoirse Ronan) and her three sisters Meg (Emma Watson), Amy (Florence Pugh) and Beth (Eliza Scanlen).

In the film they navigate the challenges of growing up and the societal pressures they face as women in the 19th century. The themes are still relevant today in a society that is still striving for true equality.

Ronan – in her follow-up to critically acclaimed performances in "Mary Queen of Scots" and Gerwig's previous directorial effort "Lady Bird" – shines in a lead role once again. Her portrayal of Jo March is as honest a depiction of a young writer as any in recent memory.

She's passionate and creative, self-righteous and kind-hearted. Most of all, she is tortured by indecision and self doubt.

Pugh continues her ascent after a breakthrough performance in 2019's "Midsommar," playing the indignant and full-throated Amy with a comedic flair. Her character isn't a caricature, though, and serves as a secondary protagonist as the film progresses and the women mature.

Watson and Scanlen play their roles in a compelling manner, while the main cast is rounded out by Laura Dern as the girls' mother, Meryl Streep as their aunt and the upstart Timothée Chalamet as neighbor and love interest Laurie.

Dern is undoubtedly the heart and soul of the film, providing guidance to all of her daughters with the patience and varied approach that each of them needs. Marmee March builds her children's strengths and is both a shoulder to cry on as well as a moral compass.

The true strength of this movie is its characters. The story unfolds like reading a good book, introducing the viewer to each of the characters' plights in ways that could very easily be cheesy but aren't. A lesser director could have turned this story into a cringe-worthy hug- and cry-fest, but that was not the case for the talented Gerwig, who has proven her mettle time and again.

"Little Women" also serves as a palate cleanser for the dark, depressing, intense and violent films that have captured the attention of moviegoers this past year. While those films have their place and are a window into the collective psyche of our time, it's nice to sit and enjoy something that can make you think and make you feel good.

It's rare these days that a PG movie can tell adult stories with such honesty and emotional reverence, but that is what "Little Women" achieves. It's a film that the entire family would benefit from seeing and one that will stand the test of time – as its source material has.

Arts & Leisure brief

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Spring fashion show set for Feb. 7 at church

Little Bird Boutique will present its Valentine Spring 2020 Fashion show from 10 to 11:30 a.m. Feb. 7 at Grace Baptist Church, 1619 E. Second St.

Inspirational speaker DeAnn Chambers will deliver a talk headlined "When Life Falls Apart" and music will be provided by Ken Cardoza.

"This event is for all the women in Newberg," a press release from the organization said. "Newberg doesn't have any place for women to go where they can meet other women and laugh, eat baked goods and drink coffee, listen to live music, inspirational speaker and see what stores have moved into town …"

Organizers ask that attendees make reservations by Feb. 5; entrance is $5.

For more information, call or text Theresa at 503-789-2910 or Jennifer at 503-330-1714.

McMinnville Women's Choir looking for new singers

'McMINNVILLE -- The McMinnville Women's Choir is seeking new members and to that end will hold its New Member Night at 7 p.m. Jan. 28 in the sanctuary at Cooperative Ministries Center, 544 N.E. Second St.

"All women who think they might enjoy singing with a large group of other women singers are invited to attend the initial gathering," a press release said. "This is a no-pressure opportunity to meet some of the returning and new prospective members and learn a little more about who makes up the choir and what the expectations and plans for the coming season will be.

At the event, the choir will sing some simple songs so new attendees can experience what the choir is about, then follow up with social time.

The choir, the release said, is open to all women singers.

There is no audition and limited singing experience and knowledge of music are not barriers as choir members help each other grow in their abilities.

The choir numbers more than 50 women from all over Yamhill County as well as from adjoining counties, and range in age from high school to retirees.

For more information, check out the choir's Facebook page at facebook.com/macwomenschoir or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


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