In 1868 and 1869, author Louisa May Alcott wrote two volumes of the coming of age story, Little Women. Loosely based on Alcott’s real-life family, the story became a massive success and a pinnacle of detailing the passage of women growing into adulthood. Since it’s release, Little Women has been adapted into various stage performances, movies, TV shows (including anime), and musicals. 150 years later, does the eighth film adaptation of Little Women find a new perspective on the novel?
In New York City, literature teacher Jo March (Saoirse Ronan) attempts to sell her stories to the local newspaper. As she cannot help reminiscing on her childhood in a post-American Civil War in New England, her younger sister Amy (Florence Pugh) lives with her old fashioned aunt (Meryl Streep) who is pushing her towards marrying into wealth, while her childhood friend, Laurie (Timothée Chalamet) is trying to convince her otherwise. Their older sister, Meg (Emma Watson) is still in New England while the musically talented younger sister, Beth (Eliza Scanlen), who still lives with their mother (Laura Dern), has been bed riddled, which brings the March women back together.
Coming off the massively successful debut of 2017’s Lady Bird, writer and director Greta Gerwig has been given quite a task of finding a new perspective in a story that not only has been around for over a century, but has also been adapted so many times. However, 2019’s Little Women shifts between two different storylines of the March sisters as teenagers and young adults based around the themes of romance and independence in the 19th Century. While the back and forth between two different stories were a bit confusing to begin with, the subtle nuances from the direction and the incredible set design make for a very satisfying and compelling story.
As the story focuses heavily on the March family and the dynamics between their friends and relationships, Little Women (2019) provides an excellent presence and chemistry brought by Ronan, Watson, Pugh, and Scanlen. While characters like Jo and Amy have more focus than Meg and Beth, the story eventually brings all four titular “little women” into an emotional payoff and how they have grown into adults. Also Meryl Streep. Enough said.
Overall, Little Women (2019) provides a wonderfully subversive story of romance and the importance of family brought together by a very talented writer and director and an impressive ensemble cast. I can highly recommend seeing the movie, especially as we get closer to the holidays and mums and grandmas will have a great time. Don’t be surprised to see this movie pop up in the 2019 Acadamy Awards early next year as Gerwig and co prove that there are still ways to bring life into a 150-year-old story.
Rating: ★★★★ out of 5
Little Women is in cinemas on New Year’s Day, but you can see it early at the last ‘Chick at the Flicks’ session of 2019 today! Read all about it here!