Hard times in New England during the Civil War, again. Winona Ryder's Jo is full of puppyish enthusiasm, brimming with enthusiasm and the thrill of anticipated passion, with Byrne's Professor Bhaer; Trini Alvarado is gentle Meg; newcomer Claire Danes is fragile Beth; and Kirsten Dunst's precocious Amy is suitably adorable. Presiding over Louisa May Alcott's family is Susan Sarandon's long-suffering Mrs March, going some way to cut through the sweetness. Gillian Armstrong resists the urge to revel in period detail, offering a somewhat clouded vision of the family, paying attention, for example, to their Transcendental beliefs. Be prepared, however, for a large beaker of the milk of human kindness. SFra.