Greta Gerwig’s sophomore directorial effort is an adaptation of Louisa May Alcott’s novel Little Women starring Saoirse Ronan, Florence Pugh, Emma Watson, and Eliza Scanlen as the March sisters Jo, Amy, Meg, and Beth.
I’ve never actually read or watched an adaption of Little Women before, but with Greta at the helm I was excited to see this new version. And I enjoyed the film, it was a lovely tale of sisterhood and a great coming of age drama for most of the major characters. The two women that the film really focuses in on are Jo and Amy. Jo isn’t interested in the typical roles that are forced upon women, and instead seeks to be a writer. Meanwhile Amy aspires to be a great painter, but is frequently jealous of Jo and often fights with her.
Meg is really the sister who gets pushed to the sidelines in this adaptation. She generally always feels like the least interesting character in the story. Emma Watson who plays her is fine, but never elevates her to be as compelling as the other sisters. Saorsie Ronan and Florence Pugh however are both fantastic as Jo and Amy respectively. Ronan really leads the film well, and brings the feisty nature we saw from her in Lady Bird but embodied in a completely different character. Pugh shines and her growth throughout the film is a joy to watch. The real surprise though is Eliza Scanlen as Beth. She by far has the least to do in the film, but is always excellent.
Gerwig also does a fantastic job ensuring that the story of the film never becomes too stale. Her use of non chronological storytelling is fantastic. Jumping back and forth in time between their childhood and young adult lives means that we get to see the characters grow over time, and many of the incidents that define who they come to be. The final part of the film doesn’t necessarily work brilliantly, and feels a little out of keeping with what came before, but it doesn’t ruin the experience by any means.
Whilst Little Women didn’t hit the, admittedly very high, bar that Greta Gerwig set with Lady Bird this was another example of her prestigious talents. The film doesn’t completely work, but when we get to follow Ronan and Pugh in the film it’s a joy.