Little Women’s realistic portrayal of love, life leaves lasting impact on viewers


Amy March (played by Florence Pugh) burns her sister Jo March’s novel manuscript in the 2019 film adaption of Little Women. The film has repeatedly been called the best version of the story and was nominated for six Oscars. Photo courtesy Sony Pictures.

Pramika Kadari, Executive News & Enterprise Editor

“That’s it?” I said to my friend, Sidekick executive sports editor Sally Parampottil, as we watched the credits roll on the 2019 film adaption of Little Women. At first glance, the story’s conclusion felt strangely dissatisfying. But a few hours to think about the film allowed me to realize it was actually immensely fulfilling – the most fulfilling a story of its nature could ever be. 

Chronicling four sisters growing up in a post-Civil War era, Little Women is not a fairytale by any means, unlike numerous other non-tragedy films involving romance. It’s not horrifyingly heartbreaking or so happy it makes you envy the characters; it’s simply real. Although that may have be underwhelming at first, because it feels less grandiose than most great films, it is the reason the movie stuck with me for days after watching it. 

To me, the most interesting characters of Little Women are undeniably Amy and Jo March, with my favorite quote from the former being, “I want to be great, or nothing.” The sisters are two sides of the same coin, both fiercely ambitious in different but equally inspiring ways. 

Although Jo’s determination to focus on her career goals is empowering, I enjoy how it is balanced with her sister Meg March’s dream to simply marry and have a family. Together, they convey that neither dream is better than the other, as both are equally important. 

Jo’s friendship with Theodore “Laurie” Laurence, her handsome and rich neighbor who most assumed she would end up marrying, is also an intriguing part of the story. Throughout the entire film, I adored Laurie because he allowed Jo to be her true self and made her feel alive – as if he peered into her soul. I’ll admit, I was frustrated with her for rejecting his proposal; her reasons seem flimsy, and I feel she only did it because she wrongly assumes she has to choose between love and ambition instead of making room for both. Although I understand the statement the story is making by refusing to marry them, that statement feels forced and slightly unnatural to me, because they feel so right for each other. 

On the flip side, Amy later accepting Laurie’s proposal makes me pity her; she earlier claims she would refuse to be his “second choice”, yet ends up doing just that. However, Little Women makes it clear that Amy did what she needed to survive. Although she does love Laurie, the film doesn’t hide that marrying him has everything to do with money, which I admire, because it unapologetically reflects the harsh realities for women back then, when it was difficult for them to earn their own income. In fact, the scene where Amy matter-of-factly tells Laurie what an economic decision marriage is might be actress Florence Pugh’s strongest acting of the entire movie. 

Little Women sheds light on the beauty of life’s small moments, and it is an extremely multifaceted film. Fully understanding its historical, social and personal aspects might require me to watch it several more times, but I look forward to doing so, because it is the best theatrical release I have seen in years. 

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