Little Women (AU - G/UK - U/US – PG)

In a word: Spirited

Little Women 1 

Meg (Emma Watson), Jo (Saoirse Ronan), Amy (Florence Pugh), and Beth (Eliza Scanlen) in Greta Gerwig’s 'Little Women'.

As a fitting start to the new year, director Greta Gerwig (Ladybird) delivers a revitalised, colourful and inspiring version of Little Women which again brings to life the celebrated story of the March family.

Following the plot of the 1869 novel by Louisa May Alcott, the film follows the lives of the four March sisters - Meg (Emma Watson), Amy (Florence Pugh), Beth (Eliza Scanlen) and the narrative’s heroine, Jo (Saoirse Ronan) - and how, despite their dramatic differences in passions and personalities, they persevere through their struggles together.

"The movie, despite the numerous previous TV and film adaptations, brings a fresh enough perspective to the original story that it's worth a look, whether you're a long-time fan of the book or a newcomer to one of the literary world's classic coming-of-age tales."

Set in Massachusetts during the American Civil War, the story tells of how the sisters manage the restrictions of womanhood and poverty with their loving mother, ‘Marmee’ (Laura Dern) to guide them and push them on into adulthood. The girls also have somewhat bitter support from their hardened Aunt March (Meryl Streep) and care from their allusive neighbour Mr Lawrence (Chris Cooper). His grandson, Theodore ‘Laurie’ Lawrence (Timotheé Chalamet), also becomes a help to the family; the girls becoming close friends to the lonely boy. 

Flashing fairly seamlessly between the present and past, the film shows how the girls and their mother are forced to experience the pains of love and loss, marriage and work life and depicts how each of the sisters reaches a major turning point in their lives: Amy and Jo travel away to pursue painting and writing respectively, Meg begins her family and Beth searches for her path in life. 

The film - including brawls in the living room and teasing conversations - stays mostly true to the original story but Gerwig has made some changes - her reason reportedly being that she wanted to stay true to both the characters and author in her movie.

While the acting is all above par, Saoirse Ronan is a stand-out. The major players are well supported by supporting characters including Hannah, the motherly housekeeper (Jayne Houdyshell) and 'Father March' (Bob Odenkirk) who is off fighting for his country.

It's a radiant and picturesque film to look at, with the beautiful scenery of the countryside, in both spring and winter, adding to the beauty of the story. Classical and instrumental music provides a unifying background to the film as a whole.

The movie, despite the numerous previous TV and film adaptations, brings a fresh enough perspective to the original story that it's worth a look, whether you're a long-time fan of the book or a newcomer to one of the literary world's classic coming-of-age tales.