Review: Little Women (2019)

While set in the 19th century, this brilliant adaptation of Louisa May Alcott’s novel, “Little Women,” delivers a modern feel to an old-time story. Writer and director Greta Gerwig’s adaptation, unlike the other versions, is refreshing yet nostalgic as the high-spirited March sisters welcome you into their home through an interweaving of non-linear events that culminate in a gratifying manner.

(Image: IMDb)

The film follows the four March sisters, Jo (Saoirse Ronan), Meg (Emma Watson), Amy (Florence Pugh), and Beth (Eliza Scanlen), in their transition from childhood to adulthood in the midst of a patriarchal and money dominated society. Whether its finding love, marrying into wealth or becoming a self-accomplished author the film tackles the timeless struggle women face in order to be taken seriously.

Much like Gerwig’s directorial debut, Lady Bird (2017), the film’s colorization plays a vital role in the mood and tone of the film. Cinematographer, Yorick Le Saux, creates warm and gorgeous compositions that display the loving and nurturing characteristics these women hold when performing one of Jo’s stories in their living room to young girls or giving their Christmas day meal to an impoverished family. The bright shots drastically contrast the cool-toned scenes where the sisters are experiencing hardships and you can almost feel the coldness in the room.

(Image: IMDb)

Almost like a puzzle, the film cuts in and out of time in the form of flashbacks and flash-forwards filling in all the gaps of the narrative as the audience becomes enthralled and attached to the characters and their storylines. Through the eyes of their many suitors, neighbors, and outside observers, it’s easy to grasp the qualities these women have yet at times the focus leans more on some sisters than the others.

Gerwig’s commitment and loyalty to the book are evident in scenes taken directly from the novel’s dialogue. For example, when Marmee (Laura Dern) admits to Jo “I am angry nearly every day of my life” while sitting on the bedroom floor, Gerwig remains faithful yet manages to develop her own adaptation.

The film’s undeniable charm comes with its inspiring and passionate characters, elegant production and cinematography, and a star-studded cast that immersed themselves in their characters. Yet with a compliant ending the film manages to capture the importance of ambition, family, and womanhood.