Her talent is immense just like her intelligence, not in vain the cast of her film is formed by Meryl Streep, Laura Dern, Saoirse Ronan, Florence Pugh and Timothee Chalamet. It is hard to believe that a woman who dares to use Borges and Italo Calvino as an inspiration to write her scripts, also needs to read her astral letter and Louisa May Alcott's astral letter to begin with the script of Little Women.
This New York filmmaker who fell in love with Lady Bird, surprises us again with a non-linear structure in Little Women. Her talent is immense just like her intelligence, not in vain the cast of her film is formed by Meryl Streep, Laura Dern, Saoirse Ronan, Florence Pugh and Timothee Chalamet. Adapting and directing Louisa May Alcott's novel was hard work for this director who studied portraits from 1854 to understand the Victorian era that the film portrays. Her film is a song of love for children, a modern version for a generation that needed her Little Women. Jo is a modern hero, confused with Louisa May Alcott herself and, of course, with Greta Gerwig. She is always the hero of her films.
Q: How did you imagine this structure that gives a complete change to a story that everyone knows?
A: Thank you very much. The structure emerged during the writing. I spent a lot of time fighting because I couldn't find what I wanted. It's something that usually happens to me, I think I'm going to write the script in a few weeks and it takes me months. I knew that the heart of the story was very close to me, because I grew up with it. For me, Jo's character has always been an inspiration. My heroine. I had a clear idea that my film was going to focus on: women, money, art and commerce.
The intersection of all those elements. Then, I felt that this book was too well known. It was printed 150 years ago, it has been translated into 50 languages, endless adaptations have been made and I felt that I had to turn it into an urban text, that is, be faithful to the book and include the collective text of what this book means For so many people. With that idea, I created a cubist narrative.
The trick was to maintain the characters’ tenderness, Christmas in front of the fireplace, the union of the family, the pleasure and pain of childhood. In that sense I had to make her justify, but also wanted to reflect the intimacy it causes us. All this helped me to face it in time, until it was presented in two dimensions. Start with Jo as an adult and return to her childhood in her memories. In their adult life they are all separated. Megan with her husband and children, Amy in Europe, Beth at home in poor health and Jo is in New York trying to be a writer. Childhood becomes a snow globe to which they return with their memories. That made me wonder if that was what had happened or what they remembered or how I was writing it.
They are layers of time where the present, the past and fiction are combined. There is a duplicity between childhood and adulthood, first Beth gets sick and then she recovers, however, then she gets sick again and dies. By joining these two events in the same linear time of the narration to the spectators, the emotional impact is much greater because the past and the present occur simultaneously. She was alive a moment ago and suddenly disappears. Emotionally this is how we experience the loss of a loved one. As the presence was a talisman against death. It is not, but it feels that way.
Q: Did you have trouble writing the script?
A: That initial scene of Jo selling her story was something that I understood because I have lived it in my flesh. Once I had that scene written, I knew I was going to be able to finish it as I wanted. Center the story on the author; the author is Louisa, the author is Jo, the author is me. That's how I got in.
Q: It is a very modern way of writing
A: Yes. It is true. I've always been a fan of smart women. I am an emotional writer, very sincere. But I like to play with the idea of being an author. Borges is one of my favorite authors, and he always plays with being included in his stories. Italo Calvino is another who also plays, they tell the story you follow, but they tell it as if there were a double storyteller. That is something that has been done little in the cinema and I find it very interesting
Q: As Borges is an inspiration, can you read in Spanish?
A: I’ve tried. My Spanish is not that great. I do speak some Spanish, but is more a survival skill when I travel to countries that speak that language than really an ability to read authors as Borges. He is a constant inspiration.
Q: It seems silly, but watching your movie I kept thinking about the Kardashians
A: I love Kardashians. It's a story about sisters and money, of course I thought about the Kardashians. It's curious. I have to admit that I love the series, and Chris Jenner moving the threads. She is the business woman. Louisa, what she did with her book and is part of the criticism I have read about her, was to create a feminine utopia, separate from men. Louisa writes the character of the father in the war, is not present. It is these women who create the world for themselves. Many times, I see women showing their energy and power while men do not know what to do. One of my favorite scenes in the movie is when the sisters enter Laurie's library, who is with his grandfather and his tutor, and when the women leave after laughing and touching everything, the men have no idea what to do. They stand bored. Women have a power that, although traditionally presented underground, has always been present.
Q: Do you think the women in your movies live utopias?
A: I had not thought so. Maybe. It's not that their worlds are perfect, but I love them so much that my camera envelops them with the love they provoke. I like to think that the characters that I believe in my films don't know everything I feel for them.
Q: They say that you are the Woody Allen of the directors, you have changed a historical book of literature by twisting the structure and making it your own
A: Look, I think I'm still learning. I try to build my path as I walk. I have no idea what my legacy is going to be, but I know that I am not testing my intellectuality. I know what I feel and what I want, what is wrong. I can't lie to myself. I can’t do something that does not leave me inside or do not understand. I have to find my own direction. I try to fit into the space of the genre I'm trying, and then I add my personality. My effort has always focused on getting my stories functional and personal.
Q: How is your relationship with Saoirse?
A: With Saoirse I have a very personal relationship. She knew that I was writing this script and told me: -I play Jo- And I was right. I knew what she said and why she asked. Before she told me, I didn't have Jo in my mind in the same way. Once I visualized Saoirse in the character, I could visualize every sentence she said. It is a mysterious relationship that we have, a little mystical. Saoirse and I are always dreaming the same dream
Q: And with the rest of the cast
A: Madness. I love actors, I am one of them. I love you and I understand you. I hope that your experience working with me on this film has been as satisfactory as it has been for me to work with them.