Romance. It’s a popular genre that viewers have been exposed to through movies and television shows for decades. Some storylines are cheesy, some are predictable and some are just downright unrealistic. But sometimes you come across a narrative that sucks you in and teaches you valuable love lessons. Although Little Women is a story based in the 1860s, this film’s takeaways on romance and relationships are something we could all apply to our lives. No matter what era it is.
Little Women is a heartfelt story about the lives of the March sisters and their transformations from childhood to adulthood in 19th century Massachusetts. In current time, Jo March (Saoirse Ronan) is a writer in New York, Meg March (Emma Watson) has two kids and is married to a schoolteacher, and Amy March (Florence Pugh) studies painting in Paris. The sisters are brought back together to their childhood home after the youngest sister Beth March (Eliza Scanlen) develops a fatal illness that she may never recover from. Little Women explores the depths of sisterhood and womanhood, and the expectations society has for these women to marry into a wealthy family, regardless if they love the guy or not.
Now, let me quickly just plug this here: I’m talking about the 2019 six-time Oscar-nominated remake Little Women film. If you’re familiar with the story (and I believe many people are), it was first a book published in 1868 by Louisa May Alcott then made into a movie a handful of times since 1933. There have been a few attempts at a mini-series but ultimately, they didn’t last long. Some of you may be familiar with the 1994 film starring Susan Sarandon and Winona Ryder, and it was received very well. However, this most recent adaptation received even higher-rated reviews.
The Dreaded Friend-Zone
What’s neat about this movie is that it jumps back and forth from the present to the past, primarily through Jo’s recollections. What’s constant in both the past and present is the presence of the wealthy neighbor’s grandson, Laurie (Timothée Chalamet). Jo first meets Laurie while at a dance with Meg and the two of them spark an instant friendship. It’s actually pretty stinkin’ cute watching them interact and dance like crazy people together. It’s such an awesome scene. At the end of the night, it’s clear that Laurie is quite smitten with Jo. However, it’s unclear if those feelings are reciprocated or if Jo looks at him as just a friend. Let’s be honest, we’ve all been there.
Love Lesson #1: You Can’t Force Love
Laurie becomes close with the March family and there finally comes a time where he confesses his love for Jo and wants her hand in marriage. And man, does this scene break your freakin’ heart. Snaps for Chalamet’s performance in this scene because he is brilliant. Jo turns him down, telling him that she can’t love him as he loves her. She says “I can’t say yes truly, so I’m not going to say it at all.” She then tells him that she doesn’t believe she will ever marry and that she’s happy as she is with her freedom.
As much as some viewers may want Jo to say “yes” to marrying Laurie, you have to applaud what Jo stands for in this moment. You have to listen to your gut instinct when it comes to love. You can’t force yourself to feel something for someone when those feelings just aren’t there and never have been.
Love Lesson #2: Wanting to be loved is not the same as loving
Let’s talk about the fact that Jo is such an independent spirit that she believes she will never marry. There’s nothing wrong with that. Yes, it goes against the notion that women in this era must marry a rich man and be stay-at-home wives. But Jo doesn’t care. She knows that women are good for more than just that.
Jo believes that marriage is seen as an economic proposition and it’s a concept she sure doesn’t abide by. Although this isn’t exactly what is expected of a woman (or man for that matter) in the 21st century, there’s still a lesson to be learned:
Don’t succumb to what others want for your love life. You should fully choose who you do and don’t love without reprimand and you don’t have to marry if you don’t want to.
I would lose my marbles if my love life was a dictatorship. There does come a point later on when Jo expresses to her mother, Marmee (Laura Dern), how lonely she is and considers just marrying Laurie. When Marmee asks if she loves him, Jo says that she just wants to be loved. Her mother reminds her that wanting to be loved by someone is not the same as loving them. That, my friends, is a powerful statement.
Love Lesson #3: True Love Doesn’t Need Money
The eldest sister, Meg, has a different idea of her happily ever after. She wants to be married, to a man she actually loves and have kids. This ultimately happens for her but she struggles with a lack of money. Meg’s relationship with her husband, John (James Norton), is a sweet, pure one that reminds us that we don’t need materialistic things in a relationship to make it work or make us happy. We may, at times, get swept away by pretty little things but at the end of the day, those pretty little things are only that.
This recent adaptation of Little Women will captivate you. The cinematography is absolutely beautiful and the acting is equally as beautiful. I mean, the actresses who portrayed the March sisters just crushed it. The unbreakable bond that the four of them have sucks you in and you want to be right there in the thick of it, with them rooting for their successes. This is a story about these girls navigating through adolescence into adulthood and fighting to live the life they choose, on their own terms– whether that’s going against societal pressures of marrying the rich (or marrying at all for that matter) or devoting your time and energy to your career. There’s a lot you can take away from this film and you will be entranced from start to finish.