Little Women is the tale of the four March sisters: Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy and their journey from youngish girls in to young women.
This new film version, adapted and directed by Greta Gerwig, is the most modern, feminist take on Louise M Alcott’s beloved tale yet.
Gerwig has chosen to tell the story of the March girls, their neighbour Laurie, and various friends and relations in a non-linear way, jumping around the story.
The problem is, that doesn’t really work. At times I found myself a little lost at to where we were in the story, and I’ve been reading the book since the age of 8. I’m not sure how anyone going in to the film cold would be able to keep up.
That decision to change the timeline also impacts one of the biggest plot points, making it much less impactful than if the viewer had been taken on the journey with that character right from the start.
Gerwig has also chosen to change Alcott’s story, adding in a love triangle that is not included in the book. I found myself arguing at the screen, thinking “[spoiler] never did that.” But then, I’m a fan of the books and a casual viewer probably wouldn’t know the difference.
The lead performances all are good, in particular Saoirse Ronan as Jo, Florence Pugh gives the most-rounded performance of Amy we’ve ever seen on screen, a special mention to Chris Cooper who enthuses Mr Laurence with warmth and Meryl Streep as Aunt March steals pretty much every scene she’s in.
On the whole, I would say this isn’t a Little Women for the purists, but if you’re a casual fan, or watching the story for the first time, then I think you’ll thoroughly enjoy it. But do read the book afterwards.