Little Women

Little Women ★★★★½

When Louisa May Alcott published the two volumes of her novel Little Women in 1868 it's hard to imagine she had any idea what a beloved text it would become, being widely read all over the world and spawning numerous stage, film, and television adaptations throughout the years. The newest retelling of the coming-of-age family drama from writer/director Greta Gerwig is a wonderfully acted and lovingly-realized adaptation that manages to elevate and enrich not only subsequent adaptations but also the original source material through its creators extraordinary attention to period detail and obvious reverence for the timeless themes at the heart of the story. Examining the personal lives and emotional evolution of four sisters growing up in 1860s New England following the events of the Civil War, Gerwig employs a non-linear structure that allows a greater insight into not only the emotional growth of the individuals at the center of her story, but also a deeper focus on the key themes of Alcott's text. Little Women has always been a story about the value of virtue over wealth, despite not shying away from the socioeconomic pressures women of the period endured, in particular as it regards the institution of marriage, and Gerwig examines these ideas in a way that feels both modern and timeless. As the four March sisters at the center of the story Saoirse Ronan, Emma Watson, Florence Pugh, and Eliza Scanlen turn in splendid performances while conveying a lifetime of shared connection. Particularly impressive are Ronan and Pugh, who are worthy of earning themselves Oscar nominations as Jo and Amy March, respectfully. Laura Dern is also delightful as the matriarch of the March family, while the extraordinary young talent Timothee Chalamet continues to charm in the role of Theodore "Laurie" Laurence.

I really hope a wide audience gives their attention to Little Women during this holiday season, especially viewers who would rather see the new Star Wars movie over a 19th century period film, because Gerwig and her collaborators really did something special with this film, rendering its story, characters, and themes fresh and exciting once again to contemporary filmgoers.

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