REVIEW: Little Women is a subtle, romantic family drama, which puts an original spin on a literary classic.

PUBLISHED: 15:46 28 January 2020

Little Women is a timely update on the classic tale of female empowerment with a stellar cast. Picture: LIGHT CINEMA WISBECH

Little Women is a timely update on the classic tale of female empowerment with a stellar cast. Picture: LIGHT CINEMA WISBECH

Archant

Lady Bird ddirector Greta Gerwig has assembled a stellar cast of Hollywood’s brightest young stars. Saoirse Ronan as eldest sister Jo March and Florence Pugh as Amy both have Oscar nominations for their performances.

Based on the classic novel by Louisa May Alcott, Little Women tells the tale of four sisters as they negotiate life's many hurdles and attempt to shape their own destiny in post Civil war America.

Lady Bird ddirector Greta Gerwig assembles a stellar cast of Hollywood's brightest young stars, including Saoirse Ronan as eldest sister Jo March and Florence Pugh as Amy, both of whom have picked up Oscar nominations for their performances. Emma Watson and Eliza Scanlen make up the quintet as Meg and Beth, while Laura Dern takes on the iconic role of their mother Marmee.

With a cast this good, it's not surprising that the performances are exceptional. Ronan completely embodies the fiercely independent Jo, while Pugh gives Amy a much more likeable edge than in previous versions.

The awards recognition for both actresses is richly deserved. Timothee Chalamet also stars as boy next door and love interest Laurie and develops a unmistakable chemistry with Saoirse Ronan. A hilltop scene in which the pair emotionally discuss their feelings for one another is heart wrenching drama.

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Louisa May Alcott's original novel has been adapted many times for both the large and small screen, most notably with 1994's Gillian Armstrong film staring Winona Ryder. However Gerwig, who also wrote the script, introduces an inventive non-linear narrative to this new version.

Although jarring at first, as events shift between past and present, the drama unfolds in a new light, which breathes life into this well worn tale. Importantly though, the themes of the original text, such as virtue over wealth and the battle against gender constraints are still very much at the film's heart.

The film has been nominated for six Oscars. As well as the previously mentioned acting nods, there are nominations for best picture, best adapted screenplay, costume design and original score, although Gerwig herself was strangely snubbed in the best director category.

With a source material this dated, the film naturally feels a little corny and overly whimsical at times, but the performances and excellent direction more than compensate for that.

Little Women is a subtle, romantic family drama, which puts an original spin on a literary classic.

It won't be to everyone's tastes, but fans of period pieces will find it a delight.


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