A Beautiful Retelling of the Beloved Novel
Based on Louisa May Alcott’s beloved 1868 novel of the same name, Greta Gerwig’s Little Women (2019) beautifully retells the classic with humor, heart, and artistry. Superbly acted by Saorise Ronan, Timothee Chalamet, Emma Watson, Meryl Streep, Laura Dern and others, the film remains captivating and relatable by weaving modern themes into the classic tale.
The film opens with Jo March (Saorise Ronan) a writer in New York City, who lives in a cramped boarding house where she works as a tutor and befriends a European professor. Jo’s sister, Amy (Florence Pugh), studies art in Paris with her aunt (Meryl Streep) where she encounters an old friend, Laurie (Timothee Chalamet). Their eldest sister Meg, (Emma Watson) lives in poverty with her husband in children and spends her days wrestling with discontentment and spending time with the youngest sister, Beth (Eliza Scanlen) who plays piano.
Seven years earlier, Jo and Meg attend a party, where Jo, lively and boyish, meets Laurie while hiding from elegant society. The two quickly bond over a shared boisterous spirit and Laurie takes the girls home, becoming instant friends with the March family.
In the present, as adults, Jo returns home from New York after the professor critiques her writing. She cares for Beth, who is sick and weak, by taking her to the seaside.
As children, Laurie invites Meg and Jo to go to the theater with him and his tutor, John, who has caught Meg’s eye. Amy, furious she has not been invited, burns up Jo’s manuscript in revenge, prompting Jo to pummel her to the ground. The next day, when Laurie invites Jo ice skating, Amy follows them, hoping to reconcile, but falls in the ice. Though Jo saves Amy, she is shocked and forgives her sister immediately.
As adults, Meg fights with her husband John because poverty frustrates her. In Europe, Amy and Laurie quarrel over her intentions to marry wealthy Fred Vaughn. In the heat of passion, Laurie confesses his love for Amy, who storms off with a broken heart, though she feels the same.
The narrative refocuses on the past, with Mrs. March (Laura Dern) receiving word that her husband, a Union soldier, has been wounded and is in Washington D.C. To pay for train fare, Jo sells her hair, and maintains a brave façade until nightfall, when she weeps over the loss in Amy’s arms.
Beth falls ill with scarlet fever. Her childhood sickness mirrors her sickness as an adult and she tells Jo she is dying by the sea, asking for a story. Beth returns home as Meg and John reconcile. As a girl, Beth recovers from scarlet fever, but she succumbs to her illness as a women.
The narrative refocuses on childhood. Meg and John marry. At the wedding, Aunt March asks Amy to accompany her to Europe, upsetting Jo, who believed Aunt March would invite her. Afterwards, while enjoying the autumn air, Laurie confesses his passionate love for Jo, his face contorted in agony. Jo refuses him.
After Beth’s death, Jo grows lonely and regrets rejecting Laurie, intending to accept his offer should he ask again. But Laurie returns from Europe already married to Amy. Upset and lost, Jo burns her writing, but remembers the story she began for Beth. She begins writing feverishly and eventually publishes a book telling her family’s story. She turns Aunt March’s house into a school, and remains friend’s with the professor, who her character marries in her novel.
The film expertly portrays each of the characters complex relationships with virtue and vice, capturing Meg’s desire for wealth, Jo’s anger, Beth’s timidity, and Amy’s selfish frivolity. Audiences can enjoy seeing these characters face real emotional battles and mature beyond them, as the four girls become four accomplished women.
Gerwig’s sets are stunning and the actors deliver compelling and complex performances. Because of this, those who love the classic book and those who are new to the story, can all enjoy this beautiful adaptation of Little Women.
Release Date: 25 December 2019
Starring: Saoirse Ronan, Timothee Chalamet, Florence Pugh, Emma Watson, Laura Dern, Eliza Scanlen, Meryl Streep
Director: Greta Gerwig
Distributor: Sony Pictures
Audience: All ages
Run Time: 135 minutes
Official Website: https://www.sonypictures.com/movies/littlewomen
Official Social Media Pages:
IMDB Page: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt3281548/
Emily Anderson | Writing Contributor
B.A | English | UC Irvine
Emily Anderson has been obsessed with writing since elementary school, when she produced dozens of handwritten children’s stories on notebook paper. She is now a junior majoring in English and minoring in Literary Journalism at UC Irvine. Her many, many passions include travel, languages, classic literature, Marvel movies, Broadway, fashion, and homemade bread. She is grateful that the GeekRockTV program provides her a creative outlet to express these passions in writing. She looks forward to establishing a future career in journalism or publishing and hopes to use her writing to share the beautiful and fun things in the world. Instagram: @em_nicole55 || View My Articles
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