This is the sixth on screen adaptation of Louisa May Alcott’s classic novel. The most recent having been 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. Taking the roots of the classic novel while dovetailing them with a beautiful coming of age journey. With director and cast working in unison to create a gloriously rich piece of period drama. That speaks as much to today’s society as it does the 1868 America of its birth. Gerwig not only reviving the novel, but in turn creates something new, with female empowerment and belonging sitting centre stage.
Gerwig cleverly plays with the books timeline, introducing us a (Saoirse Ronan’s) Jo March as she stands outside the door of a New York publisher. Nervously looking to expand her writing career with short stories published in a local paper. Meanwhile, her sister Amy (Florence Pugh) travels Europe with the stern Aunt March (Meryl Streep), while Meg (Emma Watson) settles into a loving but financially strained marriage to John Brooke (James Norton). With the delicate and caring Beth (Eliza Scanlen) remaining at home with their matriarchal mother Laura Dern. As Laurie (Timothée Chalamet) travels Europe in a lonely haze of alcohol and parties after being rejected by Jo.
The narrative then takes the audience through a series of flashbacks, each dovetailing neatly into the ‘present day’ focus of the screenplay. Exploring the sisters home life while their loving father (Bob Odenkirk) is away serving in the civil war. While allowing for the dynamics of family, sisterly love and sibling rivalry to shine through. Combining these with the meeting of Jo and Laurie in sea of humour, adolescent rebellion and unrequited love. The sisters equally surrounded by the love and affection of their mother, the judgmental gaze of their aunt and admiration of Laurie’s grandfather (Chris Cooper).
However, as the desire of each sister to achieve takes flight, alongside a tangled web of love, desire and security. These flashbacks slowly catch up to where the film began, with each of the sisters destinies sealed in their individual desire for success or belonging.
Director: Greta Gerwig