By: Lana K. Wilson-Combs
from Sacramento director and screenwriter Greta Gerwig (“Lady Bird”)
is the eighth movie adaptation from Louisa May Alcott’s 1868 beloved novel of the same name.
Gerwig’s sprawling big screen version maintains the essence of the original story, yet she brings a contemporary spin to this coming-of-age drama for a new generation. But old and young alike will find this film as engaging and arresting as any.
“Little Women” centers around the March sisters. Jo (Saoirse Ronan, “Lady Bird”), Meg (Emma Watson, “Beauty and The Beast”), Amy (Florence Pugh, “Midsommar”), and Beth (Eliza Scanlen, “The Devil All the Time”). They’re poor and live in Concord Massachusetts with their mother Marmee (a sensational Laura Dern, “Marriage Story”).
Marmee is trying to hold things together while their father and her husband (Bob Odenkirk (TV’s “Better Call Saul”) is away fighting in the Civil War.
There’s something special about Jo (Ronan).
She has big aspirations that includes becoming a well-known writer. She’s smart and pretty and is years ahead of her youth. That’s what Theodore “Laurie” Laurence (Timothee Chalamet, “Beautiful Boy”) her neighbor finds most attractive about Jo. However, Amy (Pugh) also has eyes on Theodore (Chalamet) and the jealously between the two sisters begins to take shape.
Their wealthy Aunt March (a feisty and very good Meryl Streep, “The Laundromat”) schools the young women on the importance of marrying well. Love is fine, but money can do more for your place in society is her underlying message.
Jo dismisses Aunt March’s directive and believes women are much more than property for men and that women should be able to decide their place in life. If she could, Jo would be battling alongside her father in the war. The stern words of Aunt March have also fallen on deaf ears as Meg winds up marrying a broke schoolteacher (James Norton, “Happy Valley”).
When Jo takes her manuscripts to Mr. Dashwood, (Tracy Letts, “Ford v. Ferrari”), a publisher and editor and is told that if the girl is the main character in her stories, she either needs to be married or dead at the end, Jo is stunned by the comments but it doesn’t deter her much in her approach to writing. She’s not afraid to stand up for herself either and deal with Mr. Dashwood to ensure she’s thoroughly compensated for her work including obtaining copyright ownership.
While Jo (Ronan) is the most outgoing of the sisters, each of the women are given their own room to shine and show their worth in Gerwig’s moving story. Eliza Scanlen and Emma Watson are particularly convincing in their roles.
Best of all, Gerwig has proved she’s no one hit wonder. The talented filmmaker has put her creative stamp on “Little Women.” It’s more than an updated remake, but rather a movie that remarkably manages to feel relevant even in 2019.
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Watch This Trailer For "LITTLE WOMEN"
Lana K. Wilson-Combs is a member of The Broadcast Film Critics’ Association (BFCA), The Black Film Critics Circle (BFCC), The Alliance Of Women Film Journalists (AWFJ) and a Nominating Committee Voting Member for the NAACP Image Awards.