Approx advert and trailer run time: 25 mins
Film run time: 2h 15mins
Though Louisa May Alcott’s 151-year-old novel has seen many great adaptations already, Greta Gerwig’s new take never feels redundant or old-fashioned.
During the Civil War in New England, four sisters face adolescence, poverty, and fatherly absence together, each with different gifts and longings: vain Amy (Florence Pugh) paints and wants to enter high society, gentle Beth (Eliza Scanlen) plays the piano and wants to keep the family together, organised Meg (Emma Watson) wants security and tradition, and tomboy Jo (Saoirse Ronan) wants to write at any cost, while their charming neighbour Laurie (Timothée Chalamet) is caught in between.
Eventually, the girls grow up and set these longings against the world, and each other. In depicting a beloved, much-seen world, Gerwig enriches the book without ever distorting it: the cosy nostalgia of family gathering is here, but so is the trenchant exploration of female prospects and limited opportunities. Skilled writing, immersive performances, and fine period detail all make the familiar story seem like a fully realised world, in a way that seems to flow from the novel rather than against it.
Supplying both a warm, classic familiarity and a sharp, modern touch, Gerwig’s adaptation is ideal holiday fare.