It’s one of the most ubiquitous 19th-century novels and has been adapted for the screen dozens of times, so any attempt to say something new with the story will naturally attract close scrutiny – especially if that attempt is being made by someone as respected as Greta Gerwig.
It’s definitely a lush film. There’s a lot of visual detail and colour, and it’s rich with music, both incidental and as part of the action.
Gerwig has added a twist to the familiar story by starting it further ahead in time than where the novel ends, then telling it in flashback. It’s an interesting idea, though there are times when it becomes confusing.
The performances are mostly adequate, with Florence Pugh being the delightful exception as Amy March. Laura Dern has a controlled energy as Marmee. Saoirse Ronan doesn’t quite have the right amount of fire as Jo March. Timothee Chalamet is too petulant and boyish to be convincing as Laurie, especially with the narrative that is built around him.
A mixed bag. Enjoyable but not brilliant.
Reviewed by Rita Bratovich