With remarkable clarity, Greta Gerwig’s adaptation establishes love and its complement, sacrifice, as mutually engaged emotions.
At a pivotal moment in Greta Gerwig’s outstanding new screen adaptation of Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women, the heroine, Jo March, exclaims to Marmee, “Women have minds and they have souls as well as just hearts. They’ve got ambition and they’ve got talent as well as just beauty. I am so sick of people saying that love is just all a woman is fit for. I’m so sick of it! But—I am so lonely.” While firm in its support for Jo’s assertion that women have a broader destiny than romance, Gerwig’s Little Women makes some of its strongest points about the nature of love—its aches, its sacrifices, its disappointments. A visually gorgeous period drama, the film poses a question of eternal relevance: How can a person behave unselfishly without annihilating herself?
Experience continually taught her that love leads us to want to be the best thing we can be in another person’s life, but that that best thing can be far different from what we might desire it to be.
Gerwig’s film is the first of this novel’s many Hollywood adaptations to be a work of art in its own right.
When we are young, our possibilities seem almost limitless. Years pass, and we learn our limitations. Yet a small part of us remains free and unconquered. Tattered but untamed, the spirit of youth survives into our grown selves, and it powers and makes possible our most rewarding triumphs.
-John Matteson, The Atlantic
[John Matteson is the author of Eden’s Outcasts: The Story of Louisa May Alcott and Her Father, which received the Pulitzer Prize for Biography.]
The acting performances are stellar across the board, though the biggest joy of Little Women is Gerwig’s magnificent screenplay.
There is a wild urgency to Greta Gerwig’s Little Women that hardly seems possible for a film based on a 150-year-old book. But such is the magic of combining Louisa May Alcott’s enduring story of those four sisters with Gerwig’s deliciously feisty, evocative and clear-eyed storytelling that makes this Little Women a new classic.
New York Post
This Little Women is of good cheer and lovely ensemble performances. It’s a warm fireplace hearth of a film, albeit one with a tendency to spit out fiery embers.
Drawing on both the classic novel and the writings of Louisa May Alcott, and unfolding as the author’s alter ego, Jo March, reflects back and forth on her fictional life. In writer-director Greta Gerwig’s take, the beloved story of the March sisters—four young women each determined to live life on her own terms—is both timeless and timely. Starring Meryl Streep, Saoirse Ronan, Abby Quinn, Bob Odenkirk, Chris Cooper, Eliza Scanlen, Emma Watson, Florence Pugh, Laura Dern, and Tracy Letts . Rated PG (135 min)
‘Above all else, Louisa May Alcott was a radical. From an early age, she was an abolitionist. She was also a feminist, committed to never marrying, and loved to pull up her skirts and go for a long run through the woods. Alcott’s father, Bronson Alcott, with whom she was close, was also a radical. He hung out with Transcendentalist poets and used the family home as a stop on the Underground Railroad. He was also a teacher who was disgraced after publishing a book with ideas about education that were a little too innovative.’ -Gillian Brockell