Set in Civil War-era Massachusetts, Little Women depicts the growing-up story of four middle-class white girls. Through the characters’ transition from adolescence to adulthood, the drama dwells on several identical themes, particularly about women who have ambitions, goodwill towards life and hope for the future.
The plotline starts with Jo March (played by Seoirse Ronan) standing anxiously outside the door of a New York publisher; she is preparing to march in yet still denies herself as the author of the piece. As the storyline continues, we come to know that unlike any of its predecessors, the new release adopts a non-linear, multilayered timeline where the past and the present intersect. The intersection emphasises the vivid, delightful memory of the past and engenders the spirits of sisterhood and family love that endures through ups and downs till the present day.
Jo never stops pursuing liberty and self-actualization even in an era where gender was still rigidly defined. Notably, she confesses in one scene: “women have minds and souls as well as just hearts, and they’ve got ambition and talent as well as just beauty. And I am sick of people saying that love is all a woman is fit for”. The powerful confession captures the highlight of the movie. Even with all those sufferings and loneliness, the essence of her most valued freedom is cautiously preserved and upheld.
In fact, the depiction of every character is largely centred on the search for freedom. Jo wants to build up a career out of writing, and detests the idea of marriage as the only destiny for women; Laurie (played by Timothée Chalamet) longs for a free life from his uncle’s control; Amy (played by Florence Pugh) leaves for Paris, trying to get rid of her life as “second to Jo”. You would find it intriguing to observe how self-actualization is interwoven into the shared experiences and imagination of the characters, as well as how sisterhood capture multifaceted, abundant meanings as their personalities develop.
The viewing experience itself is rather pleasant considering the movie’s poetic, painting-like representations of the mid-19th-century society. As it ends with a reunion finale, the story invites you to think deeply of the scenes that leave an impression and reflect introspectively on the themes being explored. That being said, Little Women is definitely a must-see.