Universal truths are as important today as they were back in the 1800s. That’s why Louisa May Alcott’s family-oriented classic novel Little Women has maintained its wide appeal for 150 years. This endearing story has been filmed many times before. But this new Little Women, directed and co-written (with Kristi Shimek) by Clare Niederpruem, is a modern retelling for a new generation.
Although I have enjoyed all the previous movie versions -- partially because the old-fashioned costumes and sets take me back in time -- I realize the most important element is the story of the March sisters. Happily, filmmaker Niederpruem has brought them into the 21st century for us to see what they would be like in this modern world. I am pleased to report they are still just as fascinating while growing up, becoming women, facing problems, and supporting each other.
Little Women brings laughs and tears.
A tale of old that’s switched its gears.
The time is now – not in the past.
Four sisters modernized at last.
But Jo is still the forceful one.
Writing’s her life, not just for fun.
Meg, the beauty. Beth, the dreamer.
Youngest Amy, once a schemer.
And Marmee, a dear mom again.
The gang’s all here. Another win.
No period costumes to see.
But look for new technology.
Time means nothing for sisterhood.
No matter when, it’s always good!
This movie helps us understand
why sisterhood is something grand.
Cast members give appealing performances here. In the first movie version I saw, Katharine Hepburn played Jo, and Sarah Davenport projects some of that same energetic force. This is the most difficult role, so kudos to her for maintaining that strength throughout the film. Allie Jennings as Beth makes me tear up (even thinking about her now!), which is just what she’s supposed to do. Melanie Stone’s Meg comes across as quite real to me. Amy, played by young Elise Jones and older Taylor Murphy, charmed me completely – except during the tragic fireplace scene. And Lea Thompson is the perfect Marmee – warm and caring. Lucas Grabeel and Ian Bohen also impressed me with their sensitive portrayals of Jo’s close friend and patient editor, respectively. And I must mention how much I loved hearing Grabeel sing “It’s a Beautiful Day” in one of the holiday scenes.
Because creative flashbacks are used to advance the plot, I’m glad they’re done effectively. The movie starts with Jo going to New York where she plans to publish a novel. Unfortunately, that’s not easy to do. She faces many rejections from her handsome editor, who finally persuades her to write about her own family. But a tragedy requires all the sisters to come home. In a heart-tugging scene, the ailing Beth asks Jo for one thing: a story. And that story turns out to be Little Women.
This engaging film emphasizes dreams, family and unconditional love. I think Louisa May Alcott would approve. Don’t you?
(Released by Pinnacle Peak Productions/Pure Fix Entertainment and rated “PG-13” by MPAA.)
For more information, go to the IMDb or Rotten Tomatoes website.