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Little Women is the latest of many screen interpretations of the classic novel by Louisa May Alcott about a family of four girls and their mother during the Civil War. As they struggle with the absence of their father, a soldier, they do their best to help those around them and to keep their home a sanctuary where they can create, love, and learn.
Viewing Little Women is much like looking at a series of paintings by the same artist. The movie tells the story in segments, which at times I found confusing, yet the technique allows the screenplay to give each of the girls a significant role in the film. Even Beth, the daughter who develops scarlet fever, is able to bring her more minor character forward to the point where you feel you have grown to know her in a personal way.
However, what makes Little Women a little unusual is the lack of the trite introductory scenes most films offer that allow the audience to get to know the players. This approach makes the movie more realistic and credits the viewer as having some intelligence. The downfall to this is that a viewer who wants to enjoy Little Women to its fullest must be prepared to watch and observe the characters closely. For younger children, this may make the film difficult to follow or they may have problems understanding the motivations behind the characters' actions.
Even so, Little Women is a movie that is appropriate for all ages. The film contains no violence, a few polite kisses, and a couple of the mildest of swears. If you are expecting a sentimental story aimed at children, you will be surprised to find Little Women is probably more interesting to parents. It may not have the excitement to hold all members of the family, but those who watch will be rewarded for their time.
Little Women is rated PG:
Cast: Winona Ryder, Kirsten Dunst, Claire Danes, Christian Bale