Midway through the newest adaptation of Little Women, the four March sisters wonder who would be interested in the story of their domestic struggles. Turns out, a lot of us. Audiences have been falling in love with the March sisters’ vibrant personalities since 1868, when Louisa May Alcott originally published the beloved children’s novel.
The new movie, written and directed by Greta Gerwig, breathes fresh air into the story, thanks to an all-star cast and creative storytelling. It follows the four March sisters as they reckon with independence, economic disparity, death, and the pursuit of their passions.
Change of Pace
Gerwig’s Little Women closely matches the book in plot, but the director of 2017’s female-led Lady Bird adds in a dynamic sequencing change that allows the film to flow effortlessly. Instead of telling the story of the four March sisters chronologically, the film bounces back and forth between a few years time.
The story starts with a view of Jo teaching at a school in New York, while her sister Amy is following her dreams of becoming an artist in Paris with their wealthy aunt. The story weaves together flashbacks from the sisters’ teenage years; showing their neighbor Laurie’s tight friendship with the March sisters, Meg falling in love with Laurie’s tutor, and quiet Beth contracting scarlet fever. The end of the film shows Jo selling her first book, which is based on the March sisters journey to becoming women.
Amy and Jo Steal the Show
With Little Women’s excellent casting alone, the film is destined to be an award winner. Meryl Streep plays austere Aunt March and Laura Dern plays the March sisters’ mother in a loving and dimensional manner. But it’s Amy (played by Florence Pugh) and Jo (played by Saoirse Ronan) who shine the most in the film. Their relationship is one that is filled with disagreement—and a love triangle. The two end up uniting over a family tragedy and a mutual fondness of Laurie, played by Timothée Chalamet. Pugh plays the role of annoying little sister perfectly, as she runs after Jo and seeks revenge when she isn’t invited to a theater show with Jo and Laurie. In two hours, Amy’s character transforms from pesky little sister to a mature young woman.
Role Models for All Little Women
Alcott based Jo on herself, making her the main character and a role model for young women. Set in a time when women had much less autonomy, the March women strive for independence, instead of marrying for wealth as their aunt urges them to do.
The film is a tearjerker—make sure to pack tissues. It incorporates many struggles young women have today like career goals, economic disparity, and a search for meaning amidst struggle. In the end, the March sisters are all given a gift that makes them hopeful about the future.
Need to Know: While the film is appropriate for all ages—it doesn’t contain any strong language, violence, or scenes of a sexual nature—the subject matter is more mature. A main character’s death won’t be a shock to those who have read the book, but may spark tough questions from young audiences. We recommend this movie be enjoyed by tweens and older.
Release Date: December 25, 2019