Yesterday morning Deadline‘s Amanda N’Duka reported that Greta Gerwig has written and will direct an adaptation of Louis May Alcott‘s “Little Women“, and that the project will costar Emma Stone, Saoirse Ronan, Meryl Streep (presumably playing the mother or “Marmee” character), British actress Florence Pugh and Timothee Chalamet.
I immediately recoiled at the thought of yet another period adaptation of this tale of the March sisters — Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy — on their journey to womanhood.
There have been four adaptations so far. A George Cukor-directed version in 1933 with Katharine Hepburn, a 1949 Mervyn LeRoy version with June Allyson, and then a Gillian Armstrong adaptation released in 1994. In April 2017 a Deadline piece reported that Lea Thompson would star in a modern adaptation of the Alcott book. The Thompson film is finished — the trailer says it’ll open on 9.28.
Then I heard this morning that Gerwig’s version will be contemporary and set in Sacramento a la Lady Bird. (A person who allegedly read coverage of Gerwig’s script passed this along.) That changes everything, I thought. Now I’m into it. Then I was told “nope, that’s wrong” — a friend has a May 2018 draft of Gerwig’s script, and says it’s definitely set in in Concord, Massachusetts between 1868 and 1871, right in line with the Alcott novel. The latter is the correct report — Gerwig’s is a period piece.
The sisters in Alcott’s novel are teenagers, and Marmee is in her 40s. Gerwig’s cast runs the 20something gamut — Ronan is 24, Stone is 29, Pugh and Chalamet are 22. Streep is 69 but would need to attempt to look 50ish, I would think. That or write Streep’s Marmee as a woman who came to motherhood very late in life. That would work in a contemporary context, but not so much for a film set 150 years ago.