Review: Little Women is first-rate entertainment with authentic performances

Actors Saoirse Ronan and Timothee Chalamet are back together with their Lady Bird director Greta Gerwig in a big-screen adaptation of the classic novel Little Women.

I beg of you, do not drag me out into the town square and throw me into the stocks for this shocking public confession, but I've never really been a paid-up member of the Austen/Alcott/Brontës classic book club, they've just never particularly connected with me. 

Until now.  

Ronan takes on the key role of our aspiring writer and all-round firecracker Jo, alongside her sisters, of course; Amy (Florence Pugh), Meg (Emma Watson) and the ailing Beth (Eliza Scanlen). 

The story stays true to the novel. The girls' father is away at war, the women scrape together a fairly simple but happy life, befriending the Lawrences - namely Theodore (Chalamet) - next door as they do. 

The marvellous Laura Dern plays their saintly mother with Meryl Streep offsetting that demeanour to perfection on her mission to rival the Dowager Countess of Grantham as the acid-tongued Aunt March. 

The trials and tribulations of the four very different girls growing into four just as different little women fill out this story so authentically and with such surprising relevance, the end result of which is two hours worth of first-rate entertainment.

It's no mean feat to take original source material like this, a story first published in the late 1800s, and deliver to the here and now. Gerwig and her fabulous cast do this with the script, their robust authentic performances and their commitment to a bracingly chaotic realism, showing us how women really communicate; with vigour, passion and much hilarity. 

Five fabulous stars.