31st Dec2019

‘Little Women’ Review

by Alex Ginnelly

Stars: Emma Watson, Saoirse Ronan, Florence Pugh, Eliza Scanlen, Laura Dern, Timothée Chalamet, Tracy Letts, Bob Odenkirk, James Norton, Louis Garrel, Jayne Houdyshell, Chris Cooper, Meryl Streep | Written and Directed by Greta Gerwig


So much love, so much warmth and so much talent has been wrapped up into such a special film and placed over our shoulders to keep us safe. It’s joyful, funny, sad, and leaves you with the biggest smile you’ll have all year.

Greta Gerwig’s latest film since the critically acclaimed Lady Bird, sees her adapt the beloved novel Little Women by Louisa May Alcott. A book that’s had numerous adaptations, both on TV and on the big screen, all of which I have not seen. I have also never read the book, I have of course heard of it and on numerous occasions told that I would love the book if I had the chance to read it, and it turns out this is a story I was destined to fall in love with. Now I’m not sure if it was the fact I had no idea what I was getting myself into, or the fact that I’ve been told this new adaptation takes a new direction with this piece of classic literature, but I couldn’t help but love this film.

The story, for those like me that didn’t know, follows the March sisters: Meg (Emma Watson), Jo (Saoirse Ronan), Amy (Florence Pugh), and Beth (Eliza Scanlen). We follow their coming of age story during the American Civil war. As I’ve been told, and as I understand it, the story takes a different path than both the novel and previous adaptation, opting for a non-linear story. Gerwig works the story together so well and interplay’s moments together with such ease that you’d imagine the story was always told with this structure. There’s a poetry in this filmmaking that allows themes to echo and retell themselves with effortless ease again and again. It’s Gerwig who plays these moments off so brilliantly with each other, and every other single moment of brilliance can be traced back into her hands. Little Women is one of the best looking of the year, with outstanding costume and production design masterfully woven together and highlighted in beautiful cinematography to rival that of Barry Lyndon. Alexandre Desplat will also be looking to claim his third Oscar with a beautiful score that lifts the film into another realm of beauty all together.

It’s Gerwig who balances, interplay’s and patches all these beautiful crafts together to create what we see before us, and her cast is the final gem in the crown. Every cast member is played perfectly, so much so I have no idea where to start, who to give the most praise and who to leave out. As a ensemble cast goes this is no doubt one of the year’s best, with Saoirse Ronan in the lead, she dazzles and charms her way into our hearts, surely securing her 4th Oscar nomination. Florence Pugh brings depth, power and strength to her role as she proves this year belongs to her in terms of break throughs, proving she’s one to watch out for. Eliza Scanlen plays Beth with such grace, beauty and sweetness that she will stay with you for a life time, Emma Watson has the least to do, but what she does with what’s she’s given is delightful and feels as real as anything else. The rest of the cast is just as brilliant with Timothée Chalamet and Laura Dern, especially fantastic as they continue to show they are.

For me Little Women hits somewhere that very few do, it’s hard to sum up or explain what Gerwig has managed to capture, it’s like capturing lighting in a bottle, few know how to, and those that have managed this seem like magicians to the rest of us. However, that is the only way to describe what Greta Gerwig has done here, it’s the same as what Martin Scorsese does, what Peter Jackson did with The Lord of the Rings, what Paul Thomas Anderson has done again and again, they pull you into their world. These films we see come to life before our eyes and before we know it we are in the very same rooms or walking across the same fields. We feel the breeze of the air, can smell the grass, taste the food, the world comes to life and it’s something only the very best can do, it’s something only a rare film can achieve. And in achieving this, with this story that is clearly so special as it’s been told again and again, something more magical has been created. In what can only be described as a generational movie, one that will be watched time after time, be passed down from generation to generation as all the greats do. Greta Gerwig has crafted a timeless classic, one that will surely live forever.

It’s all these parts that play together to create a beautiful piece of cinema. The warmth and charm of Little Women captures you so tightly that it creates a once in a life time experience, that begs to be seen on the big screen. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, and you’ll be a better person than you ever knew you could be for watching it.

***** 5/5

Little Women is in cinemas now.

One Response to “‘Little Women’ Review”

  • Heather Allen

    A beautiful piece of writing for a beautiful film. This is by far my favourite adaptation of my favourite book. This review sums up everything that was great. Fabulous review.