Little Women is a story that has resonated with women for generations, and Greta Gerwig’s new big-screen adaptation is an extremely contemporary retelling of the lives of Jo March and her family — no, it’s not a modern adaptation, but rather a modern sensibility. In her latest, Gerwig has infused this Civil War-era tale with culturally relevant ideas about female agency, creative ownership, and identity.
“As we evolve, each generation catches up a little closer to where Louisa was,” Laura Dern, who plays March family matriarch Marmee, tells Out. ”It feels like that, that we keep rediscovering how true, how incredibly honest she was about who she was, what her feelings were, and the accepting family that she was growing up around...I just feel like it's revolutionary every time we get to discover these subject matters.”
Heroine Jo March has long been coded as queer, something Saoirse Ronan believes is implied in Louisa May Alcott’s text.
“This the first time in any adaption of the book that [her sexuality has] even in some way been addressed,” she told Out during an interview in Alcott’s hometown of Concord, Massachutses. There’s a moment in the film when Jo tells her mother that she wants to be able to love freely. “That actually comes from Louisa's words,” Ronan explains.
“And yeah, I think that what I did really love about her is that she didn't sort of put a lid on it. It was something that she was willing to acknowledge. And I think she was self aware enough to know that there was something different about her and something that made her sort of different from even her other sisters. And I think if she had had the language or even a term that she could use to go, ‘Oh, maybe this is how I feel,’ or ‘This is what I am and that's okay. And there's a safe space for this.’ And totally I could see her definitely experimenting with her sexuality, for sure.”
Little Women is in theaters Christmas Day.
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