Director Greta Gerwig has taken a literary classic, rewrapped it in a contemporary package and presented it as a beautiful gift perfect for unwrapping on Christmas Day, when the film officially opens. In Little Women, which opens on Christmas Day nationwide, Gerwig uses a different narrative than the linear telling of the original classic, and this allows viewers to more thoroughly explore the literary themes.
Saoirse Ronan shines as Jo and brings to the character both a vulnerability that makes her approachable alongside a strength that makes her relevant. Her relationships with Marmee (Laura Dern) and Amy (Florence Pugh) have a complexity which was unexplored in previous tellings of this story. Her giddy ease playing opposite Timothee Chalamet’s Laurie inevitably brought a smile every time they shared the screen.
The creative retelling of this story makes the viewer consider all aspects of love: love of family, love between sisters, romantic love, self-love and more. Gerwig allows each sister to have an evolved, powerful voice, and allows each one to have a story that shines through. Even Marmee is given a more realistic and approachable veneer.
The costuming and sets were beautiful at every turn, from cold New England towns to beautiful French landscapes. The lush sets and costumes make the film feel even more like a significant Christmas gift.
If Gerwig’s version of Little Women has any weakness, it is due to the sheer power of the supporting cast. Laura Dern’s Marmee, Meryl Streep’s Aunt March and Chris Cooper’s Mr. Lawrence are all so electric that they often overshadow the sisters when they are on the screen.
Little Women is often treated as must-read material for young girls. This new movie has something of value for everyone in the family, and should definitely be a part of your holiday experience this year.