Little Women

Little Women ★★★★½

This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.

This review may contain spoilers.

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While it might make the story harder to follow for unfamiliar viewers, this structure was for me, one of the film's greatest strengths because of how it allowed us to view the characters. For instance, we are told almost immediately that Jo turns down the March Family's neighbor Laurie when he proposes. This takes away romantic tension from their early friendship but builds tension in other, new places, like if they can still be friends at all, or allows us to focus on Laurie's relationship with Amy instead. We see Amy grown and refined side-by-side with her younger, wilder, brattier version, and it make me connect with the character in a way I never have before.

Before, I hated Amy for burning Jo's book, and it takes so long for her to mature that I'm unable to forgive her even once she does. Here we see her sensible, matured self first, and then go back to see how she grew to that place. Suddenly I engaged completely with her. It's not that the character is different, but the film is intentional about how we see her.

Frustrated and beat down, Jo rants about how she is sick of being told that love is all a woman is good for, and she ends her impassioned speech with a brutally honest admission: despite her great ambition, she is lonely. Enter Friedrich Bhaer, who's probably my favorite thing the restructuring influenced. Because of his early presence he never feels like an afterthought or last resort over being a spinster. We don't get hung up on Jo with Laurie, because Friedrich is there "before" Laurie, constantly waiting with patience and hope. So when the movie ends, it is equally as satisfying on romantic grounds as it is in the more material triumph of its leading lady.

It all comes together into a perfectly balanced portrait of happiness. The joy of loving and being near your family, the immense satisfaction of realized ambition, and the thrilling sense of completion that comes from loving someone who loves you. Yes, women are fit for more than love; but man or woman, love is a great thing.

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