Rich Pickings on Little Women

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Writer-director Greta Gerwig puts her auteur stamp on this adaptation of Louisa May Alcott’s 19th century coming-of-age novel. It benefits from a superb ensemble performance. The four March sisters and their parents are depicted with verve and veracity and we are rooting for their freedom and happiness throughout. The feisty sisters are a breath of fresh air when some period dramas make their heroines out to be helpless and frail.

So we have Saoirse Ronan as the tomboy Jo who we see initially as a writer in New York getting her first big break from a pig-headed editor (played cynically by Tracy Letts). While Florence Pugh’s Amy is introduced to us as a painter in gay Paris. Their sister Meg (Emma Watson at her best) is a theatrical type; while Beth (Eliza Scanlen) is a fine musician, if too modest to admit it.

Their father (Bob Odenkirk) is away in the Civil War so it is up to mother (Laura Dern) to run the household. Meryl Streep puts in a charming performance as the wealthy Aunt March who tries to instill the notion of marriage as a financial transaction to all four sisters. Love interest comes in the form of Laurie (or Teddy as he is affectionately known) in a key role played by Timothée Chalamet.

As you can imagine this adaptation demands brilliant production design and Jess Gonchor fits the bill exactly. While Jacqueline Durran’s costumes are simply to die for and add to the authenticity of the piece. Gluing all this together is a gorgeous soundtrack by Alexandre Desplat that combines classical and more ambient sounds.

Also the Yorick Le Saux’s cinematography is second to none with some beautiful set pieces and lots to please the eye. Gerwig prefers a non-linear structure with flashbacks and forwards, testing the talents of Tracy Letts’ editing.

This is a fabulous film that combines feminist themes with a great narrative that is both faithful to the novel whilst being inventive too.

Reviewed by Rich Jevons. Runs at The Vue cinema in The Light Leeds until 27 February.

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About richjevons23

Rich Jevons is a freelance journalist based in Leeds. Just a quick intro: thirty years' journalistic experience (I was published in the Yorkshire Post at the tender age of fifteen!); a decade as Arts Editor at Leeds Guide; freelancer including work for Big Issue in the North, Metro Newspaper, Artscene, Northern Exposure, AN, AJ, BJP, Hotshoe International, National Drama, Plays International... And edited www.digyorkshire.com until its demise at the end of 2013. Now writing predominantly for www.thestage.co.uk, www.northernsoul.me.uk, www.thepublicreviews.com, www.culturevulture.co.uk and www.thestateofthearts.co.uk.

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