It’s safe to say that Greta Gerwig’s Little Women is now the ONLY film interpretation you need to watch of the classic novel by Louisa May Alcott. I just adored it. Gerwig’s new telling of the trials and tribulations of the March sisters is both a rollicking good time and an emotional tug of war – with both ends of the spectrum perfectly balanced within this brilliant and surprisingly contemporary feminist movie.
Writer and director Gerwig has kept true to the essence of the story while still firmly stamping her quirky, offbeat and energetic style all over it. The story begins with the sisters as adults, jumping back and forth throughout the key moments in their childhood and formative years. And, although still set in 19th century Massachusetts, the vibe and energy of the film is passionately bright and modern; very much reflecting the vibrant characters within it. I was so captivated and engrossed by her storytelling that I mostly forgot that this was a period piece – until the inevitable wide-brimmed skirt made an appearance, at which point I was jolted back in time.
The casting is spot on too. Emma Watson is well suited as the rule-abiding Meg, Florence Pugh has fun with the vain and feisty Amy and Eliza Scanlen is perfectly understated as the more unassuming and sickly Beth. Queen Meryl of Streep is an expected scene-stealer as Aunt March and Laura Dern ties it all up in a satisfying bow as Marmee.
When it comes to the lads, Timothée Chalamet as Laurie is delightful and he’s the boy-best-friend we’d all wish to have no matter what century we lived in. Bob Odenkirk pops up as Mr March and Louis Garrel provides for a swoonsome romantic knight in shining armour as Friedrich Bhaer.
Although all the cast is superb, it is Saoirse Ronan that sets the bar and she sets it very high indeed. She is a phenomenal force on-screen as Jo, exuding raw heart-on-your-sleeve emotion radiating every ounce of Jo’s youthful creativity, ambition and joy alongside growing maturity, heartbreak and grief. Ronan nails it, and some, proving herself to be one of the best actresses of her generation. Although all the cast are wonderful to watch, Ronan is definitely the core that keeps the lifeforce of this captivating film burning. Watch out Mery she’s coming for your crown.
Little Women is Gerwig’s love letter to the source material and to the stories of young women everywhere. You can feel her affection and obsession for the text and the characters within each casting, in every shot and in the delivery of every witty and heart-wrenching line spoken. It’s a film that manages to be both immensely sophisticated and anarchically fun. Little Women is a real rollercoaster ride where Greta Gerwig proves there is always room for a fresh and original approach to any story.
Reviewed by Ingrid Grenar.
Great Gerwig’s Little Women is out in cinemas from the 2nd of January.