Little Women (AU – PG/US – PG-13)

In a Word: Uplifting

Little Women

The four March girls in Little Women - Amy, played by Taylor Murphy (back), Beth, played by Allie Jennings (middle left), Meg, played by Melanie Stone (middle right), Jo, played by Sarah Davenport (front).

 

"Little Women is a celebration of family life and what really matters amid the joys, heartbreaks and tragedies of ordinary life; the moments which inspire and the challenges which confront us."

Seems like it’s the season for Little Women. There have been numerous interations of the story over the years, mostly recently a 2017 BBC series, and, come Christmas, a big screen version featuring well known names including Saoirse Ronan, Emma Watson and Meryl Streep. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

This version is a contemporary retelling of Louisa May Alcott’s classic text of the same name, this latest update is a well cast, beautifully shot, film that can’t fail to leave you feeling good.

The story, as per the book, centres on the story of the four March girls – including the oldest Meg (played by Melanie Stone) and her younger sisters, the retiring Beth (Allie Jennings), extrovert Amy (Elise Jones/Taylor Murphy) and Jo (Sarah Davenport), the headstrong tomboy. It's Jo (short of Josephine) who dominates much of the action, which moves back and forward in time, as she tries to find her way in the world as a writer.

The story broadly follows that of the book and much of the language and the character quirks will be immediately recognisable to fans, albeit with contemporary references to such things as a ‘wing woman’, home-schooling, and Voldemoort (the bad guy in Harry Potter).

We’re taken on a journey as the girls blossom into women under the care of their mother Marmee (Lea Thompson) and father (Bart Johnson) in their home in rural America.

Nextdoor neighbours Theodore "Laurie" Laurence (Lucas Grabeel) and his tutor John Brook (Stuart Edge), play supporting roles as does cranky old Aunt March (Barta Heiner) and Freddy (Ian Bohen), the professor who becomes Jo’s love interest.

The film, directed by Clare Niederpruem, is backed by a terrific soundtrack and the cinematography is excellent. Acting performances are good all round but it’s Sarah Davenport in her role as Jo who steals the show. 

Little Women is a celebration of family life and what really matters amid the joys, heartbreaks and tragedies of ordinary life; the moments which inspire and the challenges which confront us. Through the stories of those on the screen, we’re taken through the struggle the March girls – and indeed all of us - face as they look to find purpose and meaning in lives.

The film reflects the sorts of values found in the book which some may find a little implausible in a contemporary context (the girls seem somewhat removed from many of the challenges of modern life), but if you can put that aside, you’ll find this a gently played out tale which all ages should enjoy.