It feels appropriate to preface this review by saying that I never read Little Women, I never saw the 1994 adaptation with Winona Ryder and I have no emotional bond to the characters of this story.

However, I do have a massive crush for Saoirse Ronan and immense admiration for writer/director and all-round rising star Greta Gerwig and everything she has done (I even have a t-shirt with her name on it). 

So of course, I bloody loved this film. 

For all the other laypeople who never got to experience the magic of Little Women as kids, Louisa Mary Abbot’s novel is about the four March sisters living in Massachusetts in the 1860s.

Emma Watson, Florence Pugh, Saoirse Ronan and Eliza Scalen in Little Women
Emma Watson, Florence Pugh, Saoirse Ronan and Eliza Scalen in Little Women C: CTMG, Inc

The March family brood consists of Meg (Emma Watson) the eldest and most traditional one, Jo (Saoirse Ronan) the fiercely independent writer, Beth (Eliza Scanlen) the timid one with a passion for music and Amy (Florence Pugh) the youngest of the bunch and a sparkling socialite. 

Surprisingly, the plot doesn’t develop in a linear fashion. We jump in and out of three separate timelines, following the sisters’ struggles with their father being involved in the Civil War to falling in love and getting married.

The little women of the title all try to maintain their own ambitions while being faced with the harsh truth that there is no place for dreams in the world they live in. 

In Gerwig’s rendition, the March household is a place of immense warmth and joy. Whether is it sharing their Christmas breakfast with a starving family or softening the soul of their old and stern neighbour.

Their big hearts open up to everyone, especially to Laurie (Timothée Chalamet) the boy next door who chases the unattainable Jo without realising that little Amy has always had a fondness for him.  

Though unlike every Jane Austen novel, the introduction of the male love interest does not tear the sisters apart in catty fights. 

In the end, they say to each other constantly “it’s Laurie”, to try and undermine his potential as an actual suitor. 

His presence is that of a brother and Timothée Chalamet’s performance, while energetic, never robs the girls from the centre stage spot. 

Saoirse Ronan and Timothée Chalamet in Little Women
Saoirse Ronan and Timothée Chalamet in Little Women C: CTMG, Inc

Through they do eventually outshine one other. Emma Watson completely disappears under a plotline that few cares about and Eliza Scanlen, while this could have been her chance to shine alongside the new generation of great actresses, is given the same treatment as her character and fades to the background. 

If anything else, Little Women sees Laura Dern (playing Marmee March) and Meryl Streep (Aunt March) welcoming Saoirse Ronan and Florence Pugh into the pantheon of amazing female performers with open arms. 

For Pugh especially, there would have been no better way to finish of a year that saw her go from the seemingly unknown lead of Fighting with my Family to landing a role in the upcoming Black Widow

Pugh’s Amy steals the audience attention from Ronan’s Jo on many occasions. In every ensemble shot, our eyes can’t help but search for her. Little Women is not the story of Jo March anymore, it’s the Jo and Amy show. 

Verdict: ★★★★★