Little Women (2017). Television Review.

Liverpool Sound and Vision Rating * * * *

Cast: Emily Watson, Maya Hawke, Willa Fitzgerald, Kathryn Newton, Annes Elwy, Jonah Hauer-King, Julian Morris, Dylan Baker, Michael Gambon, Adrian Scarborough, Angela Lansbury, Eleanor Methven, Mark Stanley, Kathleen Warner Yates, Amelia Crowley, Ann Skelly, India Mullen, Amy Wren, Max Curnin, Erin Galway-Kendrick, Leah Temple-Lang, John Colleary, Nick Dunning, Nelly Henrion, Felix Mckenzie-Barrow, Mei Bignall, Patrick Flannery, Fode Simbo, Richard Pepple, Aleah Lennon, Will O’Connell.

The only issue you can normally have with television executives is when they go against the seemingly distasteful and fairly unfathomable contribution to entertaining and educating the nation’s television viewers that the put out for most of the year. The captive audience it seems that fills the living rooms over Christmas is the time when a gem can come forth and almost make the rest of the year’s viewing bearable, the problem being is that instead of taking a chance on something new, something from literature’s rich and varied tapestry, they invariably commission a much loved story that has been plagued by adaptation time and time again.

Although Little Women has had that lavish attention bestowed upon it more times than most in the last 80 years, whether on television or in cinema, the classic story of four sisters each trying to find their own path in a world that is set against the backdrop of the American Civil War and growing determination to see the world in a different way and have the world respond with a quaking of the change possible, still has the power to charm and win over audiences and quite rightly so.

Little Women in the modern age could be seen as problematic due to its sensitive nature of portrayal of life in an era that seems almost alien, somehow so far detached from our lives today. Yet Louisa May Alcott’s arguably most loved work still resonates, still can be seen as writing that moves the reader and grips the television viewer because of its supposed innocence wrapped in a message to which all can take heart in and perhaps learn more about how times are not always as far removed as we suppose.

In this particular adaption of the classic book, the characters don’t just come to life, they are arguably more rounded and beautifully drawn that at any time, especially in the depiction of the relationship between Jo, played with great passion by Maya Hawke, and her mother and father, Emily Watson and Dylan Baker in the type of form that one would always expect, it is one that agitates and draws the love between them to lengths that were almost unheard of in literature of the time, the backing of the family to pursue a dream rather than find despair in argument and damnation.

A beautifully realised adaptation that moves gently along and yet has the undercurrent of drama carefully woven throughout, Little Women but a huge heart.

Ian D. Hall