This review comes from my Letterboxd profile, where I review the movies and limited series I watch.
I have to admit, this movie was more of a slow-burn for me. I would say that for the first 45 minutes or so, I had a hard time getting sucked in. I thought the scenery was gorgeous and the acting was really good, but I had a hard time latching onto ANY of the characters for a while. I felt that their development was rushed at times, with some of them just suddenly escalating in anger with no reasonable cause, and the story wasn't that engaging at first. However, once a huge conflict occurs between two of the sisters over what one of them did to the other's writing, this movie got SO much better. In fact, by the time the third act began, the film had basically managed to FIX every single one of its problems. I haven't seen a movie manage to do that in a long time, but this movie absolutely did that to the point where I really want to see it again even though I just watched it. Moments in the third act, particularly some really heartwrenching editing choices, made me choke up and I loved that.
The one thing I loved from the get-go about this movie was the chemistry between all of the sisters. I know nothing about the original source material, but I love how all of these sisters are so loving towards and interested in each other that they won't stop talking to each other and over each other. They feel like real sisters and their bond is palpable throughout the runtime of this film. I love the smaller intimate moments that the characters share with each other. Even in the early moments of this film, one of my favorite sequences is a dance that occurs between two of the characters outside of a house party. The music fits the tone of the scene really well and it's just a sweet and human moment.
I knew that Greta Gerwig had chosen to tell this story by jumping back and forth in time throughout the movie, but I don't think I quite prepared myself for how subtle the changes would be. After a while, I was able to pick up that events that took place in the past were warmer in tone, indicating a more innocent and happier time in all of these sister's lives, while events that took place in the present were much colder and darker in color, indicating how distant these people have become. After a while, i was able to get used to the sudden time jumps and I got even more invested in how those jumps in times actually aided in developing the characters. Seriously, how did Greta Gerwig not get nominated for an Oscar for her direction here? Her voice really stands out in this film, and I absolutely adored the way she helmed this film. It didn't even get a Best Editing nomination! Oh, well. At least it got Adapted Screenplay. It definitely deserves that for its writing.
All of the acting in this film is on point. Literally NONE of the sisters are originally from America (Saorise Ronan, Emma Watson, Florence Pugh, and Eliza Scanlen), and ALL of their American accents are on point. Heck, I've never even seen Pugh or Scanlen in other things, so if you told me they were American, I would have believed you. They were all so great, their chemistry is on point, and they all get chances to shine in their performances. Frankly, I think Laura Dern should have been nominated for this instead of Marriage Story because she gets a lot more to do here and is really fantastic here. For a while, Meryl Streep was my favorite aspect of this movie, and even by the end, I still thought she was incredibly hilarious and a great comedic presence. Timothee Chalamet is charming as hell here and really fits into this time period well, much like pretty much everyone in this movie. Everyone does a great job and I don't think there was a weak link in regards to performances.
My only major flaw with the movie at this point is that looking back, I'm not exactly sure HOW time passed once we cut back to the past. I'm not sure how many years we got to see pass throughout the course of the film and when exactly all of these events took place. Sometimes, the editing gets a little too clever for its own good. There's a sequence where Saorise Ronan is running across a street and the footage briefly slows down before it sped back up. Honestly, I wish that slow-mo moment didn't happen. What I did wish happened was that edit from her running into the street to her running into the forest that we saw in the trailer, which didn't make it into the movie. I really loved that edit and I really wish we got to see it in this movie. Aside from that, though, all of the flaws that I had with this film for a while were fixed by the time the third act rolled around. The time skips became easier to track, the characters became much more developed, their motivations for getting angry or for doing things that initially didn't make any sense eventually made more sense, everything about this movie eventually tied itself together for me and paid off immensely for me by the end. I adore the fact that this movie appeals to the mainstream while also asking them to be patient and wait for certain things to come together throughout the film. If you're patient with this film, you're gonna be rewarded. If you haven't seen this film and you love the original source material, I can't recommend it enough.
Letter Grade: A