little women

★★★★★

DIRECTOR: greta gerwig (lady bird)
STARRING: saoirse ronan, emma watson, florence pugh, and timothee chalamet

 

REVIEWER: emily carter

Four sisters come of age in America in the aftermath of the Civil War.

I cracked open my first copy of Little Women in intermediate school, and it was love-at-first-read. But can Greta Gerwig really turn this tween-friendly classic (written in the 1800s no-less) into the timeless classic it deserves to be?

 

I can surmise my answer into a resounding yes. The original author, Louisa-May Alcott truly wrote a narrative that rings true through the ages, and Greta Gerwig revived it even further. Comb back the layers and it's a middle class family of sisters, navigating the balance required between the expectations of their gender, their dreams and accepting each other for the way each sister decides to go. Perhaps as true a trouble it was then as it is for many now.

 

Marriage, careers, jealousy and disappointment make a sisterhood, and Little Women isn't short on any of it. Our focus is on Jo (Saoirse Ronan), the second eldest of four sisters. Bent on having her writing published far and wide while not being tied down by any husband. Then there's Meg (Emma Watson), the eldest, most romantic character (and perhaps the dullest - sorry  had to say it), the fiery Amy (Florence Pugh), the third sister, jealous and annoying, and gentle Beth (Eliza Scanlen), the youngest sister and peacemaker.

 

While slightly confusing at first, Little Women jumps in and out of two time periods of the sisters. Revealing to us the events that lead them to where they are now, and why. Inextricably tied to the sisters is their neighbour Laurie (Timothee Chamalet), an especially tight companion to Jo, her creative whims and bright ideas.

 

Little Women is sweet, cosy, charming and inviting, without being cheesy, too-cute, fluffy and forgettable. It has hit that sweet spot where you can enjoy with your friends, your younger sister or even your mum - all without the cringe.

 

Ronan as Jo is fierce, flighty and lovable, a passionate, ink-stained writer - just as she is in the books. But it was Florence Pugh as Amy who truly stole the show. She had the annoying-little-sister absolutely downpat, along with the emotional turmoil that comes with feeling forgotten or overlooked. Along with the other sisters there is much giggling and hair-braiding, but also genuine love that will have you reaching for your phone to call your sister.

 

The film embarks on sharing the message that no woman's goals are lesser than the other - whether husband, career or not. And nobody messes with sisters, of course. A special hats off to the imaginative tweaks Greta Gerwig made with the final scenes - a worthwhile extra that doesn't derail the original story.

 

No film has taken me back to my school library days quite like Little Women - and in the very best way. A charmer hopefully as timeless as the book.

★★★★★

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