Little Women (2019) – a sumptuous slice of classic literature


Little Women is now playing in cinemas nationwide.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

This is the sixth on-screen adaptation of Louisa May Alcott’s classic novel, the most recent being the 1994 academy award-nominated film starring Winona Ryder. However, unlike previous adaptations, Greta Gerwig’s Little Women sings with a vibrant air of modernism as she takes the roots of the classic novel and gently injects a modern flare. The result is a gloriously rich slice of period drama that also manages to speak to our world today.

Gerwig plays with the book’s original timeline, introducing us to Jo March (Saoirse Ronan) as she stands outside the door of a New York publisher, nervously looking to expand her writing career through short stories in a local paper. Her sister Amy (Florence Pugh) is travelling through Europe with the stern Aunt March (Meryl Streep), and Meg (Emma Watson) is attempting to settle into a loving but financially strained marriage with John Brooke (James Norton). Meanwhile, the delicate and caring Beth (Eliza Scanlen) remains at home with their mother, Laura Dern. At the same time, Laurie (Timothée Chalamet) is travelling across Europe in a haze of melancholy and booze after Jo’s rejection of his love.


Using a series of flashbacks, Gerwig then explores the sisters’ lives and the family dynamics as they grew into women. Here love, rivalry, jealousy and tragedy are weaved with first loves, joy, disappointment and rejection. You know the story!

Alongside some truly stunning performances, it’s Gerwig’s adapted screenplay that shines. Her modern yet richly classical take on female empowerment is not only joyous and bold but richly reflective of the spirit of Louisa May Alcott’s work. At the same time, the beautiful cinematography and score create the sensation of being wrapped in a warm blanket on a cold winter’s day in front of a roaring fire. Little Women is firey yet tender as love simmers beneath every conversation and interaction with Chalamet’s Laurie, full of boyish charm as he attempts to woo the fiercely independent Jo. While some may find Gerwig’s adaptation a touch too modern, others like me will wallow in its sentimentality, beauty and fine performances.

Director: Greta Gerwig

Cast:  Saoirse RonanEmma WatsonTimothée Chalamet, Florence Pugh, Eliza Scanlen, Laura Dern, Bob Odenkirk, James Norton, Louis Garrel, Chris Cooper, Meryl Streep


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