November 25, 2019
Saoirse Ronan and Emma Watson head a terrific all-star cast in a wonderfully warm, funny and heartfelt version of Louisa May Alcott’s coming-of-age classic
Little Women review – sisters are writin it for themselves in Greta Gerwigs festive treat
There’s nothing little about Greta Gerwig’s rich, warm, bustlingly populated and passionately devoted new tribute to Louisa May Alcott’s classic novel of sisterhood. She revives Little Women as a coming-of-age movie, a marriage comedy, a sibling-rivalry drama – and perhaps most interestingly of all, an autofictional manifesto for writing your own life. This is where fledgling author Jo March must negotiate her terms directly with her mutton-chop whiskered publisher (no agent!). She must enforce her own copyright prerogative. She must decide, having created a heroine so clearly based on herself, if a wedding is the only plausible ending to her story, which gives her a commercial bestseller and a materially comfortable life.
Saoirse Ronan plays the fiercely opinionated and boundlessly energetic Jo, one of four teenage sisters increasingly faced with genteel poverty in 19th-century Massachusetts, their father (Bob Odenkirk) away serving the north’s cause in the civil war. Thoughtful Meg is played by Emma Watson, Florence Pugh is pugnacious, hot-headed Amy, and Eliza Scanlen the delicate, gentle Beth. Their mother, Marmie, is played with style and easy authority by Laura Dern, and the casting brings into view a slight facial resemblance between Dern and Ronan. James Norton plays John Brooke, the diffident, penniless tutor who is to capture Meg’s heart; and Professor Friedrich Bhaer, the middle-aged German academic who is to be Jo’s fatherly suitor-slash-mentor in New York, is reinvented as a considerably younger and dishier Frenchman played by Louis Garrel.
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