Little Women (2019). film adaptation of the novel by Louisa May Alcott

Still from the film Little Women (2019)
Standard

Historical/Period/Epic

Emily Shears

Image of 5 stars for an excellent film genius a classic movie

Win Hughes / @win_hughes

image four star rating very good lots to enjoy

Jason Day / @Reelreviewer

image four star rating very good lots to enjoy

Film review by Jason Day, Win Hughes and Emily Shears of Little Women, the 2019 adaptation of Louisa May Alcott’s classic novel about four sisters coming of age. Starring Saoirse Ronan, Emma Watson, Florence Pugh and Eliza Scanlen, directed by Greta Gerwig.

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Synopsis

This adaptation of the classic novel by Louisa May Alcott concerns four sisters and their personal, romantic trials and tribulations during and just after the American Civil War.

Review, by @Reelreviewer, @Win_Hughes and Emily Shears

Firstly, I have to say that, although I know of Alcott’s novel and the umpteen cinematic adaptations that have been made, I haven’t read the book.

Nope, not a page.

In fact, this film highlighted a bit of a gap in my reading ‘career’ – I’ve read countless classic, English literature, but hardly any from American authors.

Given the quality of this movie, I’ll make a New Year’s resolution to remedy that.

Writer/director Gerwig has given herself a whopping amount of time to fill (2 hours and 14 minutes) which can go one of two ways for an audience.

Those who love the source material will swoon over the attention she pays the author’s work.

Those who haven’t seen it, might well fidget in their seats about all of the detail, especially near to the end if they need the loo.

But then, I always complain movies could benefit from being ’10 minutes shorter’!

The flashback and forward structure of the script, jumping between multiple periods of time, was initially confusing and rather annoying. You’ll question why Gerwig has ‘ruined’ things by chopping up and rearranging her story so.

But, as the threads of her adaptation come together, with the girls’ growing sense of feminism behind closed doors and as the sisters indulge in some chaste partner swapping, you see what her intention is.

The turns and tumults of growing up, the confusion, getting upset at the slightest of things, generally being all over the show, are convincingly captured. Stick with it, you’ll see what I mean.

The performances are all exceedingly fine, with Ronan – as Jo – proving again why she is worth keeping your eyes and ears on. This versatile actor is first seen dashing around New York in trousers, a scene that would have made her 1930’s Little Women forbear Katherine Hepburn – who loved wearing slacks, at a time when such fashion was daring for women – giggling with delight.

Pugh – who was revelatory in the sublime, gory horror Midsummer – is not far behind her as Amy, spiky and spirited, gazing adoringly up at Timothée Chalamet, but also obtuse where Jo is obdurate.

Finally, just to add a word about the design, particularly the costuming, which is perfectly pitched. The March girls are clearly struggling financially – they are dressed well, but the clothing, the material, is down at heel. The frocks are muted compared to their richer peers and the material is threadbare.

My good pal and co-worker-in-arms Emily Shears absolutely loved this and gave the movie the full five star rating. She chips in her thoughts:

When I think of Little Women adaptations, Winona Ryder and Christian Bale instantly spring to mind as the most memorable for me, as a 90s kid… until I saw Greta Gerwig’s adaptation.

Saoirse Ronan is phenomenal…or dare I even say ‘capital’ as Jo March, Florence Pugh’s performance as Amy was just hilarious, particularly putting her feet in cast so Laurie can remember how dainty they are. Little Women is visually stunning, with all the best elements of a period drama, Meg’s debutante dresses were exquisite (even though I’m more of a Jo!) and the rolling hills and houses of Concord were all kinds of house goals!

The film was exactly what I needed it to be, with Jo’s headstrong belief in herself and her sisters and the focus on the March women’s choices in life all being completely different is just as important today, in the age of people comparing their lives to others on social media, as it was when the book was first published.

Also, just add, Emily was also rather taken with actor Louis Garrel, who plays dishy Professor Friedrich! Here is a photo of him, just for her!

Louis Garrel as Friedrich in Little Women 2019
Emily likes the ‘bookish’ type!

Win Hughes – attending her first ever ‘sneaky-peeky’ Cineworld Unlimited screening (and the only one of us to have read the source material) added:

Although the flashback structure at the start was confusing, it was a really delightful version of such a well known story. The emotional moments were handled without sentimentality and the use of flashback worked well for the most part.

The Little Women were well cast and Saoirse Ronan made a brilliant Jo.

Although the flashback structure at the start was confusing,

Cast & credits

Director: Greta Gerwig. 2hr 14mins/134mins. Columbia Pictures/New Regency Pictures/Pascal Pictures/Regency Enterprises/Sony Pictures Entertainment. (U).

Producers: Denise Di Novi, Amy Pascal, Robin Swicord.
Writer: Greta Gerwig.
Camera: Yorick Le Saux.
Music: Alexandre Desplat.
Sets: Jess Gonchor.

Saoirse Ronan, Emma Watson, Florence Pugh, Eliza Scanlen, Timothée Chalamet, Laura Dern, James Horton, Meryl Streep, Chris Cooper, Bob Odenkirk.

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