REVIEW: ‘Little Women’ brings fresh take to classic tale of sisterhood


Courtesy Sony Pictures

Staff Writer Srishti Kaushik writes that ‘Little Women’ is a timeless classic fit for any viewer.

Srishti Kaushik, Staff Writer

Director Greta Gerwig, with the help of a lively and well-suited cast, revives a classic tale of sisterhood, domestic troubles and romance for today’s generation in her 2019 film adaptation of Louisa May Alcott’s “Little Women.” 

The story follows the lives of the eccentric March sisters, head-strong Jo (Saoirse Ronan), overshadowed Amy (Florence Pugh), supportive Meg (Emma Watson), and quiet Beth (Eliza Scanlen), switching between flashbacks and the main plot. Although it is hard to identify the main character because each sister has her own conflicts and plotlines, Jo is the protagonist for much of the film. 

Set in the 19th century during the Civil War, the March family is run by their generous and loving matriarch, Marmee (Laura Dern), who often sacrifices the family’s needs to help those in need. Their father is off fighting in the Civil War for much of the movie. Jo March begins the main plot living in New York and struggling to make a living out of writing in a world made for men. Gerwig puts her twist on the novel’s plot by cleverly incorporating the writing of “Little Women” into the story as the novel that Jo works on throughout the film. 

In the present story line, Amy March is in Paris with their rich Aunt March (Meryl Streep) trying to balance her passion for painting and her need to marry rich in order to support the family. It is there that she meets with Theodore “Laurie” Laurence (Timothée Chalamet), a long-time family friend and crush. As the film dives into the past, we learn that Laurie was in love with Jo and had proposed to her, only to be rejected. In the present, Laurie and Amy clash repeatedly; she is disappointed by his new habits of drinking and partying after Jo’s rejection, and he is disappointed in her search for marriage to an affluent man.

Meg March is married to a poor school teacher and despite their love, their relationship is tested while the new family struggles to make ends meet. 

Meanwhile, the youngest sister Beth March, who has a passion for piano, battles with a terrible illness that brings all the characters together.

The star-studded cast beautifully depicts the characters’ intricate relationships. Pugh, playing Amy, stands out for capturing her character’s complexity and carries on much of the plot with her acting. Chalamet charms viewers with his classy style and emotional line delivery. Streep, as usual, proves her dynamics while playing the old and traditional Aunt March with a bit of wry humor.

The movie’s cinematography is amazing throughout, with a sprinkling of shots that are truly captivating. It’s clear “Little Women” deserved its Academy Award for Best Costume Design, as the outfits on all characters were flawless.

There are very few negative things to say about this movie although the jumping between the past and the main plot may be confusing for some. Although Meg is one of the main characters, her plot isn’t developed to the extent of her sisters’ and is hastily wrapped up at the end of the movie.

But despite these minor faults, “Little Women” delivers a new and creative production of an age-old story. It combines all the domestic drama and angst into a heartfelt story of family and romance with a light tone of feminism, making the tale feel timeless. The March sisters and the other characters charm their way into the hearts of modern viewers, and their passionate lives and beautiful, dynamic relationships even make more than a few viewers jealous.