The March Sisters at Christmas (2012)
                    A review by Corinne H. Smith
     A contemporary adaptation and interpretation of Little Women, the semi-autobiographical American novel written by Louisa May Alcott, set in our time instead of in the 1860s. This version aired on the Lifetime network in November 2012.



     This is the story of the four March sisters – Meg (Kaitlin Doubleday), Jo (Julie Marie Berman), Beth (Melissa Farman), and Amy (Molly Kunz). Their mother, Margaret (Paula Plum), has been called to Afghanistan for two months to join their father, Robert (Robert Welsh), who has been injured in the war. The girls are left to their own devices, although Jo, the most independent sister, likes to be the one in charge. They decide to repair their home, Orchard House, so that their parents don’t have to sell it when they get back. With this undertaking, we see what draws these young women together and what pushes them apart. They’re committed to their parents and to one another, but they’re attached even more to the house they grew up in. Can they possibly finish the work before Christmas?

     One of the subplots focuses on Jo’s writing career. But of course, since she’s a 21st-century woman, her current projects include crafting and posting tweets for low-level celebrities. Can she create something for herself, like her first novel? That’s when she meets editor Marcus Baer (Mark Faniglietti). Will they be able to work together?

     And then there’s Teddy (Justin Bruening), the boy next door, who lives with his wealthy uncle, Mr. Lawrence (John Shea). Both are good friends of the March family. So is John Brooke (Charlie Hofheimer), who once dated and then broke up with Meg. When Uncle Jim realizes that Teddy and John are still in love with two of the March sisters, he encourages them to embark on some good old-fashioned courting. Will both young men be successful in meeting this joint challenge? You’ll find out.

     Julie Marie Berman plays a determined and often wide-eyed and frenetic Jo. Molly Kunz’s Amy is as brat-like as usual for this character. Melissa Farman puts an interesting spin on Beth’s perspective, and (spoiler alert!) it doesn’t involve any truly tragic scenes. Justin Bruening and Charlie Hofheimer are fun to watch as they follow their pursuits. Since this version of the story centers on young people, they go to a fair amount of partying, especially since they’re all in their 20s and their parents are half a world away. I guess this is to be expected.

     What makes this movie extra special is that it was filmed in central Massachusetts, mostly in Worcester and Grafton. It includes glimpses of select streets and scenes in Concord, where Miss Alcott’s original book was set. Jo bicycles past the real Orchard House at the beginning; and later on, the Minuteman statue can be seen at the North Bridge. The quick views in downtown Worcester are a joy, too. Anyone familiar with these places will catch the references. Director John Stimpson and some of the cast and crew are from the region. They understand the need for strong connections.

The March Sisters at Christmas joins the Little Women of 2018 (the Sarah Davenport),as a contemporary version of the classic book. Both are delightfully inventive. The newer one is more faithful to the original plot. This one gives the basic storyline a number of quirks; and it has the advantage of being filmed in the right vicinity. Both are worth watching at least once, if not more. And not just during the holiday season. True Alcott fans may have to suspend their disbelief a lot more than usual. But they should be open-minded enough to do this.

The “regular” Little Women movies are: by the Katharine Hepburn (1933), the June Allyson (1949), and the Angela Down (1970), the Susan Dey (1978),  the Winona Ryder (1994), the Maya Hawke (2017), and the Saoirse Ronan (2019). None of the movies can cover the detail discovered in the book. Read first, then watch.

Thanks for stopping by!

The Little Women Project: Reviews of all of the Movies

Blogs | Books | Non-Fiction| Stories | Poetry
Reviews I Write | Programs | Events | Contact | Home