I wasn’t as excited as I expected to be when a new ‘Little Women’ film was announced. I love the story, (ashamedly have not read the book, yet) and am a sucker for a period drama. Especially one as wholesome and wonderful as ‘Little Women.’ But for some reason the thought didn’t thrill me.
Perhaps it was a concern that they might try to make it unnecessarily dark and edgy. I am looking at you ‘Anne with an E.” That and there was a recent mini-series that aired in 2017 and I didn’t really see the need for a new film.
But I was wrong, so very, very wrong. We need this film, watching felt like a vital viewing experience. And that’s not to say it’s any better than the 1994 film starring Winona Ryder, or the 2017 mini-series, just that we needed to watch it again. We needed to be reminded that existed, be caught up in fervour, and actually make time to watch it. And in that way a remake truly was necessary.
Director and actress Greta Gerwig took the task in hand, writing and directing the new adaptation. And it is hard to find anything to criticise. In fact, I don’t even want to find anything. To criticise because the film is nothing short of beautiful and wholesome.
Perhaps there is something about watching it as a single woman in my 20s, with friends at the exact same point of life as me. But this movie spoke to us in ways we hadn’t felt we had connected with before. Which is probably why I found myself tearing up nearly every five minutes.
The film was beautifully shot. Yorick Le Saux did a brilliant job as cinematographer, his camera appeared to dance with the girls and made you feel as if you were an active participant in their lives.
Then there is the cast. Which boasts the best of Hollywood. Though for one of America’s most famous pieces of classical literature, it rather amusingly has sourced all the little women from outside of the States. Nevertheless, the indomitable Aunt March is played by none other than Meryl Streep. Laura Dern (‘Jurassic Park’) plays Marmee, and Timothée Chalamet takes on the role of Laurie with a masterful charm.
Saoirse Ronan (‘Brooklyn’) plays the main character Jo, with a vivacity and energy from the screen. Her passion, her intelligence and wit, and her fierce independence are inspiring and yet still incredibly relatable. Emma Watson (‘Harry Potter’) plays Meg with a soft gentleness, and both are perfectly cast.
The most fascinating of the casting choices is Florence Pugh, in the role of Amy, the youngest of the daughters. While it may take some time to adjust to Florence’s deep voice, as she plays a very young Amy, the transition of the character, and growth of the arguably spoilt and youngest child is magnificent. Between Gerwig’s writing and Pugh’s acting, Amy quickly becomes one of my favourite characters in this film.
There is one thing to be said about the costumes. Firstly, that they are stunning, and if I could find replicas of Jo’s costumes, I would definitely buy them. However, this film is guilty of the same thing as Disney’s 2017 ‘Beauty and the Beast.” Using bloomers as trousers… As practical as it sounds, as much as they might look like trousers to our modern sensibilities, and as much as they went onto inspire the design of the first female trousers, they are still underwear. And no, Jo March would not be running down the street with her underwear on display, no matter how fiercely independent she was. But that’s really the only thing…
But what makes this film so vital? It is perhaps the way Gerwig has managed to capture the universal experience of the transition from girlhood to womanhood. The struggles of life, the desire to do good and make something of yourself and struggles with love.
Sometimes my tears were for the characters, if you know the story you’ll know why. At other times the tears were for me. When Jo delivers her strong monologue proclaiming that she is, “so sick of people saying that love is all a woman is good for, I’m so sick of it,” she finishes with a heart wrenching, “but I am so lonely.” She captures a true and very real moment of despair in perhaps every woman’s life.
If you can make it to a cinema, I cannot stress enough how much you should see this. If not, the moment it enters the world, watch, rent, buy or stream it.