This article first appeared in Texas Lifestyle Magazine on December 23, 2019.
“Little Women” is more than a story of feminism—it’s about determination, the love of friends and family, but mostly, it’s a story of an unbreakable bond between sisters.
The vision Louisa May Alcott had when she wrote “Little Women” is being told at last in Greta Gerwig’s film adaptation of the beloved classic novel. The “Lady Bird” writer and director successfully merged the essence of both the book and Alcott’s writings into an amazingly captivating and poignant movie.
“Little Women” was Alcott’s response to a publisher’s request for a book that would appeal to young female readers. As a result, girls became inspired by Alcott’s loosely-based personal narrative, which was set in a world where girls were beginning to have far more choices and fewer limitations in their daily lives.
The revered story of the young, independent March sisters, Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy, who were determined to live life on their own terms, remains both timeless and timely. The star-studded cast is secondary in Gerwig’s adaptation of the 1868 novel, which was considered a visionary masterpiece, a belief that continues more than 150 years later.
Meryl Streep plays the March sisters’ wealthy, pessimistic, but endearing Aunt Josephine, Laura Dern is Marmee, the March family matriarch, Bob Odenkirk is the March sisters’ father, and Timothée Chalamet plays the adorable Theodore “Laurie” Laurence, the March family’s wealthy, handsome and charismatic neighbor.
From the opening scene, it is clear this will be a story centered around the limited opportunities available to women during that time. Set in the 1860’s, the film unfolds in Concord, Massachusetts from the perspective of Alcott’s alter ego and classic heroine Jo March, played by Saoirse Ronan, as she reflected on her life which was riddled with defining and irreversible moments.
Gerwig plays with the novel’s original timeline and is therefore able to dive deeper into different aspects of each sister’s life. By cutting to specific moments in their childhood, the audience is able to make the connection between the crucial and distinguishable crossroads they encountered in their past to the consequences they now faced in their present lives.
For fans concerned the film can’t possibly live up to the brilliance of Alcott’s novel, rest assured the hype surrounding Gerwig’s “Little Women” is well-deserved and well-placed because this movie does indeed outshine its predecessors. If Alcott were still alive today, I’m confident she would be truly proud and approve of how the March sisters’ lives turned out and the women they became in the end.
Greta Gerwig’s “Little Women” is in theaters Christmas Day.