There are few movies quite as warm and endearing as Gillian Armstrong’s loving adaptation of Louisa May Alcott’s American classic. Winona Ryder is perfectly cast as Jo, the headstrong March sister destined to become a literary success, and she’s ably supported by a terrific cast of likable character actors, each more charming than the last. The set design is gorgeous, the cinematography is downright breathtaking and the music is rising, and while it helps to be familiar with the source novel to follow some occasionally clumsy editing, the movie is just so lovely to experience that it’s hard to hold anything against it. Susan Sarandon and Christian Bale shine in supporting roles, but it’s Claire Danes who walks away with the best scene (“But I don’t like to be left behind”) and can turn even a hardened moviegoer into a blubbering, tear-stained mess. It’s a perfect holiday movie.
Rating: ★★★★ (out of 5)