Little Women is the seventh film adaptation of the 1868 novel of the same name by Louisa May Alcott. The novel was semi-autobiographical with Louisa’s sisters being the inspiration behind the characters of the iconic March sisters. What sets this seventh film adaption apart from the rest is its non-linear narrative. The scenes do not appear in chronological order and the film constantly moves back and forth, showing us different times in the lives of the March sisters. Director Greta Gerwig was aware of the fact that most of her audience has already been enraptured by the beautiful novel and so using a disjointed narrative was perhaps her way of ensuring that the audience stays engaged. Due to the adoption of this non-chronological narrative, those who haven’t read the book might find it difficult to connect with the characters and the story as a whole.
This adaptation of the novel shows Jo as the author of a book named Little Women. A well-thought nod to author Louisa May Alcott, this move makes the fact that Jo’s character is based on Louisa herself more apparent than it was in the novel. One of the reasons the novel is so popular is that it is rooted in reality. The film captures that essence perfectly: no scene is overly dramatic and no reaction is exaggerated. That is perhaps the reason the film as a whole is so effective.
The film, at its core, is about growth, the growth of its characters from little girls to, well ,“little women”. Along with the characters, the story grows too. It talks about how society constructs roles for women and how they are forced to live up to other people’s expectations, not even getting a chance to live up to their own.
Amy March is one of the most misunderstood characters in the book. Greta Gerwig and actress Florence Pugh’s interpretation of Amy allows us to see her character from a fresh perspective. Watch out for a fantastic scene in the film where Amy talks about what it is like to be a woman in the 19th century: it is pure genius. Florence Pugh’s Academy Award nomination for this film is well-deserved.
Four-time Academy Award-nominee (the last for this film) Saoirse Ronan is as brilliant as always. Laura Dern is absolutely lovely as Mrs. March, as is the affable Timothée Chalamet as Theodore “Laurie” Laurence. Emma Watson is well cast as the dignified eldest March sister Meg. And a special mention for the wonderful Meryl Streep, who, as is an established fact now, can do no wrong.
Little Women is a delightful film that deserves to be seen.
Disclaimer: This article has not been written by Film Companion’s editorial team.