Over 150 years ago, Louisa May Alcott wrote a story about four sisters growing up while their father is off fighting in the Civil War. Little did Alcott know that her book would become so popular that there would be over 12 television adaptations and six feature films based on her novel about the March family.
The most recent film version of “Little Women,” directed by Greta Gerwig, features many recognizable stars such as Meryl Streep, Timothée Chalamet, Saoirse Ronan, and Emma Watson, but what makes the movie so special is the unique, unconventional structure of the film where the story is told in a non-chronological order, jumping back and forth from past to present. By having flashbacks of the characters’ childhood and flash-forwards to their current lives, the audience is able to have a rich understanding of each character and observe their development as they grow older.
The most interesting character is Josephine “Jo” March, who is an aspiring writer played by Saoirse Ronan. The plot focuses on her difficult journey to get her stories published during a time when women were shunned for having careers and expected to only tend their homes. There were great comical moments when Jo’s Aunt March, who is played by Meryl Streep, urges her to find a rich husband and give up her writing career. Jo’s witty responses not only make the audience laugh; they also depict her as a strong, independent, and bright young woman, making her a great role model.
Gerwig’s portrayal of the March family is also appealing as they all have a close and loving relationship. When tragedy strikes, for example, they support each other and work through the problems together. They are also exceptionally kind, doing such generous deeds as giving away their Christmas breakfast to their less fortunate neighbors.
Although they care for each other and get along, their lives are not perfect. There are no bad guys; instead, the “antagonists” in the film are the personal struggles that each of the young women faces, and the different ways that each one overcomes her challenges reveal the strengths and personalities of each of the characters.
One of the most riveting conflicts is the love triangle that involves Amy, Jo, and Laurie. The competition for Laurie’s love and the suspense over which sister will end up with him keep the viewers excited and engaged.
Without giving anything away, the movie has a deeply sad ending. However, like the scenes in the rest of the film, the final one serves to show how special the March family is and why their story has fascinated and entertained readers and audiences for 15 decades.