"If you write a story about a young woman", a publisher advises Jo, "make sure she's married by the end. Or dead. One of the two." This was all that was expected of women in nineteenth-century America. But the four sisters in Louisa May Alcott's Little Women have bigger ambitions.
Following her sparkling debut, Lady Bird, director Greta Gerwig confidently tackles this literary classic with a fresh, contemporary vision. For her, it is a story of female aspirations, money and artistry. What's more, Gerwig – herself an actor – allows her first-class cast to shine: when the women are together, they tumble over one another in a happy tangle constantly bathed in the glow of a warm light. Separately, they are equally radiant: Florence Pugh is a revelation, and the irritated frown that at times spreads across Saoirse Ronan's face deserves an Oscar all of its own.