Movie review: Little Women
Greta Gerwig's non-linear take on Louisa May Alcott's beloved book may incur the wrath of literature purists.
Her style of directing is a wise choice as it makes the narrative punchy and captivating.
Focusing the story on the second March sister Jo is also another brilliant move, as Saoirse Ronan is undeniably the greatest actress of her generation. She has received four Oscar nominations, including best actress for Little Women.
Set in the Civil War years, Alcott's coming-of-age tale about the four March sisters - Meg (Emma Watson), Jo, Beth (Eliza Scanlen) and Amy (Florence Pugh) - has been adapted many times, be it on stage, television or on the big screen.
Gerwig's version offers a modern slant, shaking up the timeline by introducing the March sisters as adults. We are first introduced to Jo, who has moved to New York City to follow her dreams to be a writer.
Living in a boarding house, she certainly does not behave in a manner befitting a young lady. Her fingers are ink-stained, her hair is messy and she is always running around. In place of pretty frocks and corsets are masculine jackets and vests.
Alcott's famous moments are all captured here - Jo burning Meg's hair with a pair of hot tongs; Meg's debut into high society; Beth contracting scarlet fever; and Amy burning Jo's manuscript - told via flashbacks as part of Jo's memories.
While Ronan's performance is outstanding, the other actresses that make up the March household also turn in solid work.
Laura Dern is brilliant as ever supportive mum Marmee, while newcomer Scanlen does not make shy and sickly Beth a weakling. Watson is the weakest link as pretty Meg, the one who is contented to be a wife.
Pugh has the unenviable job playing Alcott's least favourite character Amy. While Amy is still unlikable here, credit goes to Pugh for showing how a narcissistic and selfish young girl can grow up into a fierce, strong woman. She earned a best supporting actress Oscar nomination for her portrayal.
Timothee Chalamet was born to play the carefree Laurie, the girls' wealthy childhood friend and Jo's one-time admirer who later becomes Amy's husband.
The romances and rivalries of the March sisters may have been published more than 150 years ago, but this tale of sisterhood and female empowerment is perpetually evergreen.
FILM: Little Women
STARRING: Saoirse Ronan, Emma Watson, Florence Pugh, Eliza Scanlen, Laura Dern, Timothee Chalamet, Meryl Streep
DIRECTOR: Greta Gerwig
THE SKINNY: Louisa May Alcott’s classic story of four sisters, each determined to live their lives on their own terms, is given new life in this latest adaptation told through the eyes of the second March sister Jo (Ronan).