16 January 2020 - Greta Gerwig's Little Women gives Jo the ending she deserves
Being Jo March: Little Women finally has an ending grown women deserve
Josephine Tovey (The Guardian, 15/01/2020)
Long before internet quizzes asked women to reduce themselves to female archetypes by finding out “which Sex and the City character are you?” generations of girls grew up reading Little Women and playing, in their own imaginations, “which March sister are you?”
Like the creative, tomboyish heroine of Louisa May Alcott’s semi-autobiographical novel about four very different sisters, I was a Josephine who went by the more boyish name Jo, the second daughter in a big family of girls. The choice seemed preordained.
It wouldn’t have mattered anyway though – like so many girls who grow up wanting to write and push against social conventions, I hoped to be Jo anyway.
Why Little Women Is a Triumph
Caryn James (BBC Culture, 16/12/2019)
There is a guilty secret shared by more readers than you might imagine: some of us have never been fond of that preachy novel Little Women. It is a minority opinion to be sure: generations of women writers from Simone de Beauvoir to JK Rowling and Patti Smith have declared that they were inspired by Louisa May Alcott's 19th-Century book, especially her strong-willed, semi-autobiographical heroine, Jo.
Greta Gerwig’s wonderous adaptation cuts through the novel’s moralistic surface to mine the themes beneath: feminism, creativity, independence and individuality. Without sacrificing any of the story’s period charm or authenticity, she adds a contemporary feel that can appeal to the book’s devoted fans and its sceptics alike. The performances are dynamic, notably those by Saoirse Ronan as the fiery Jo, Florence Pugh as the underestimated Amy, and Laura Dern as their wise mother, Marmee. And the film looks glorious. Wryly knowing and deeply emotional, it is a triumph.
The Compromises of Greta Gerwig’s “Little Women”
Richard Brody (The New Yorker, 31/12/2019)
It’s odd to begin a review of a movie based on a work as familiar as “Little Women” with a warning about spoilers, but one of the most original inspirations that Greta Gerwig, as writer and director, brings to her adaptation of Louisa May Alcott’s novel is a conceit that needs to be revealed in order to make sense of the movie at all. Namely, in Gerwig’s thrillingly bold reconfiguration of “Little Women,” the writing of the novel is built into the story—and the author isn’t Alcott but the novel’s protagonist, Jo March (played by Saoirse Ronan).
In this way, Gerwig’s “Little Women” is the tale of the birth of an artist—a female artist at a time that’s hostile to women and the telling of stories of women’s lives from women’s point of view. In short, a time very much like today in Hollywood. In addition to the path of a woman in the world of movie-making, Gerwig inscribes another personal theme: the relationship of an artist to her family. Like Gerwig’s film, “Lady Bird,” from 2017, her version of “Little Women” is about a free-spirited young woman whose ambitions threaten to detach her from her financially struggling family, and who discovers that her intellectual self-fulfillment and emotional development are inseparable from her devotion to her family.
This Is ‘Little Women’ for a New Era
Jessica Bennett (The New York Times, 08/01/2020)
I’ve always sort of wondered what I wasn’t getting about “Little Women.”
I’m pretty sure I read it in school, though I would be hard-pressed to recall a single scene. I know I saw at least part of the 1994 film — the one with Winona Ryder, Claire Danes and Christian Bale — but I remember walking out of the room midway through and never returning, much to my mother’s dismay.
Nothing about the March sisters of Louisa May Alcott’s perennial best seller particularly stuck with me, and as an adult, annoyance overshadowed apathy as I tried to understand how the literary heroine of so many women I admired — the spunky, independent writer Jo March — would, by the end of the novel, relinquish her art for marriage, and then proclaim that she is the happiest she’d ever been.