*This Review Contains Heavy Spoilers*
When my family was deciding on what movie to watch one night, we ran through “Jumanji 2,” “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker,” and “Spies in Disguise,” before finally, my mom settled on “Little Women” (2019). As someone who had neither read the book nor seen the 1994 version, I was a bit skeptical as I walked into the theater, even though the movie had good reviews. My uncertainty only increased as I laughed when I saw our seating. Because the theater was basically full, my family and I had to sit in the front row to the right. We had recliner seats to help us look up at the screen, but we were still viewing it at an extremely awkward angle.
“Little Women,” based on the popular novel by Louisa May Alcott, tells the coming-of-age story of the four March sisters. Directed by Greta Gerwig, the movie released Dec. 25, 2019. The story centers around the second oldest sister, Jo March (Saorise Ronan), as she tries to become a writer during a time of male dominance. Although focusing on her story, the film also tells the stories of her three sisters as they all grow up: Meg (Emma Watson), Amy (Florence Pugh) and Beth (Eliza Scanlen).
The movie begins with a scene of a girl trying to get a story published, with anxiety clearly written all over her face. At this time, I was gravely confused about what was going on, seeing as she referred to the writer of this work as her “sister.” Was it her work or her sister’s? I wasn’t sure. With all this, I was confused for a majority of the beginning.
The different sisters and the switches between the past and present within the movie threw me off further. It took me at least 30 minutes to match the names of the sisters with the faces, then I had to take on the challenge of knowing the names of the male characters.
However, knowing that these famous actors and actresses were featured in this film influenced my opinion of this movie. I stared at Meg for the longest time, before realizing that she was Emma Watson; I thought “Hermione!” Having this knowledge exaggerated their acting in my brain, automatically labeling it as amazing, just because I knew of their previous endeavors. However, the actors in this movie did do an amazing job of portraying their respective characters. I especially applaud Ronan for her portrayal of Jo’s raw emotions throughout the movie.
A majority of the scenes in this film, including the time Amy burned Jo’s writing, or when Jo worked all day and night on her story, imprinted themselves in my brain even after the movie ended. When Amy burned Jo’s writing, I screamed internally, feeling the pain that Jo was experiencing. Likewise, when Jo was writing her story, I could feel her determination from the screen, which pushed me to want to be a better writer. This movie was able to communicate the characters’ emotions across the screen to the audience, which was one of my favorite parts of the film.
However, throughout this movie, my inner feminist was crying as the March sisters ended up losing their childhood dreams. Meg had to throw away her dream of being an actress for her love, tragic but sweet at the same time. Amy realized she couldn’t become an artist despite her hard work and ended up marrying Jo’s old sweetheart, giving me mixed feelings. But Jo’s marriage surprised me the most since she was strongly against marriage. However, these directorial choices nonetheless portrayed the pains of that time period well, because women were not socially accepted unless they were married, the only way to receive money.
This movie, although confusing at first, definitely implanted itself in my heart with all the different emotions I was made to experience. The screenplay came full circle as Jo ended up publishing her writing, and we all, including Jo, watched as her book was created. The ending allowed me to walk out of the theater satisfied, my uncertainty allayed, and glad that I had watched the movie. I would recommend this movie, even if you aren’t as interested in coming of age stories set in historical time periods.
Story by Hanna Zhang
Photo credit: Photo provided by POSTER.ninja