Like many of your our LBSW team is apart at the moment. Our weekly film club is designed to bring us all together through our shared love of book-to-film adaptations. Every Monday we’ll announce a new film that we will review. This week, LBSW’s Orna O’Brien watched the latest adaptation of Little Women.
Little Women, film adaptation review by Orna O’Brien.
If I had to choose one book that transported me to a certain time in my childhood, Little Women would be it. Jo, Meg, Beth and Amy were as real to me as any fictional characters before or since.
I feared that the recent film adaptation, the eighth of this iconic classic, would fall short of my expectations: I feared in vain. It was a beautifully filmed piece, with the clothes, textures, decor and New England Autumn beauty featuring almost as strikingly as any of the physical characters themselves.
Each of the March sisters is depicted in fine detail. The perennial favourite of all readers is of course feisty Jo, however, in this adaptation a brighter light is shone on youngest Amy, than in many previous adaptations. Amy is seen as more than the sweet piano playing youngest. Jo embodies most of the timeless coming of age themes of the novel: the loss of childhood; importance of finding one’s own path in life; small steps towards female emancipation and more. She is ahead of her time in wanting a writing career, and refuses to relinquish her ambition, nor acquiesce to the submissive femininity that is expected of her. I’d rather be a free spinster and paddle my own canoe.
Director, Greta Gerwig’s refreshing adaptation is creatively and passionately interpreted. Her deviations from strict chronology or specific events unusually adds, rather than detracts, from the whole, making for a production that embodies the timeless themes, without being tied to every detail of the book. This reordering of events helps make the whole more cinematic without having to use gimmicks. This brings out in strong contrast the easy, wholesome early home life of the sisters, and the more serious adult challenges, disappointments and decisions. Viewers will have forgiven the addition of the final insertion of Jo speaking to her publisher regarding the book that they are now enjoying on screen: a meta moment, but works really well overall.
One cannot write a review without reference to the dazzling cast, that includes Saoirse Ronan, Florence Pugh, Laura Dern and Meryl Streep. They each embody their character’s coming of age, with attendant struggles and challenges, to life in the most credible of ways.
All in all, I relished and indulged in this most recent adaptation of the wonderful classic Little Women. A joy to watch!