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Ladylike: Redefining Womanhood

Director Greta Gerwig once again proves her capabilities with “Little Women.” (Wikimedia Commons)

Beloved since its first publication, “Little Women” is one of the most poignant stories of womanhood and family ever told. On Christmas Day of 2019, a new adaptation of the novel was released in theaters.

Directed by Greta Gerwig (“Ladybird”), the film was highly anticipated by a wide audience. Skeptics were insistent that another adaptation of the book would fall flat. But it didn’t and, instead, earned an estimated $29 million in cumulative sales during its first weekend.

The star-studded cast features Saoirse Ronan, Emma Watson, Timothee Chalamet, Laura Dern, Florence Pugh, and Meryl Streep. Ronan, who plays the popular heroine, Jo March, encapsulates Jo’s frantic energy and strong personality. Of great interest was the strength of the chemistry between boy-next-door, Laurie (played by Chalamet), and Jo, given their former pairing in 2018’s “Lady Bird.”

The film is by every standard magnetic and incredible. Gerwig’s attention to detail allows the film to line up completely with the book: her method of switching between flashbacks and what are considered “current” events allows viewers to feel a sense of nostalgia and familiarity. 

The March sisters face trials small and large as they grow up. With a father in the military and a mother focused more on the needs of others more than her own, the girls rely on each other for a sense of family, home, and comfort. Almlost anyone with sisters can relate to the March’s silly games, fantastic stories, and often impassioned arguments. 

Though published in the 19th century, this novel still strikes a chord in the modern era. Jo exemplifies so many women of today: hard workers, talented at a job, but struggling to reconcile her work with a yearning to find love.

Particularly in its examination of womanhood, Gerwig’s adaptation is most thought-provoking.  It is rife with tension, perfectly timed, and gorgeously executed. Whatever work Gerwig chooses to do next, it will someone to look out for.


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