Support Local Journalism. Join the Cleveland Scene Press Club.

Monday, December 23, 2019

Cast is Incandescent in Greta Gerwig's 'Little Women'

Posted By on Mon, Dec 23, 2019 at 8:30 AM

click to enlarge WILSON WEBB
  • Wilson Webb
Greta Gerwig has followed up her masterful coming-of-age directorial debut Lady Bird (2017) with an adaptation of the famous 1868 Louisa May Alcott novel Little Women. The film, which opens in wide release on Christmas Day, has been nominated for two Golden Globes (Best Actress for Saoirse Ronan and Best Original Score for Alexandre Desplat) and is surely among the year’s most buzzed-about Oscar-season contender. 

Alcott’s novel of the domestic triumphs and tribulations of four Massachusetts sisters has been adapted before, most successfully in a 1994 screen version starring Winona Ryder, Christian Bale, Susan Sarandon and others. Gerwig’s new version exudes the same warmth as many of its predecessors, which is a tribute to the vitality of its source material, a seminal work of fiction that shed new light on the role of women in society and the psychological role of love in the lives of women.

The specificity of the characters and settings in the book limits radical new interpretations; the chief departure in Gerwig’s script is that she has elected to tell the story non-linearly, in which events seven years apart occur in parallel. This makes for a few narrative bumps at first but leads to dramatic payoffs, and also allows the events of adolescence to be viewed through the lens of adulthood.

Gerwig is owed credit for the remarkable familial chemistry of the cast. Emma Watson, Ronan, Eliza Scanlen and Florence Pugh are incandescent as the March sisters. Their scenes together are a joy to behold. Timothee Chalamet, as wealthy neighbor and pal Theodore “Laurie” Laurence, vibes so well with Ronan that audiences will be dumbstruck at their romantic fate, as in versions past.

Florence Pugh, one of Hollywood's fastest rising stars, imbues Amy March, (easy to write off as the petulant, snobby March sister), with a soul and spirit that she’s never had before.

Though the story plays out in the 1860s, Gerwig’s Little Women shows us just how universal, how timeless, the happiness and hardships of life really are.

Sign up for Scene's weekly newsletters to get the latest on Cleveland news, things to do and places to eat delivered right to your inbox.

Tags: , , , , ,

We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Cleveland Scene. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Cleveland Scene, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at

Support Local Journalism.
Join the Cleveland Scene Press Club

Local journalism is information. Information is power. And we believe everyone deserves access to accurate independent coverage of their community and state. Our readers helped us continue this coverage in 2020, and we are so grateful for the support.

Help us keep this coverage going in 2021. Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing membership pledge, your support goes to local-based reporting from our small but mighty team.

Join the Cleveland Scene Press Club for as little as $5 a month.

Read the Digital Print Issue

January 5, 2022

View more issues


Never miss a beat

Sign Up Now

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.


© 2022 Cleveland Scene: 737 Bolivar Rd., Suite 4100, Cleveland, OH 44115, (216) 505-8199
Logos and trademarks on this site are property of their respective owners.

Website powered by Foundation