Okay, I know what you’re thinking, and I also have no idea how I managed to make it this far without seeing this incredible film. My weak excuse is that I’ve never read Little Women, and I wanted to finish reading it first. As an English major, it feels super wrong to watch a film like this before reading the book, but I also have little to no time between readings for English classes to tackle such a hefty novel. However, I recently got tired of waiting and decided to cave and just watch the movie first (*gasp*). Obviously I LOVED it, so here are some thoughts I had while watching.
- I think I have a crush on the entire cast?
Honestly, how is anyone supposed to focus on the plot of this film while watching Timothee Chalamet, Saoirse Ronan, AND Florence Pugh in period costume? I can’t tell if I’m just jealous of the beautiful cottage core vibes or actually head-over-heels for these characters, but either way, someone should have warned me that I’d spend more time thinking about Jo in a vest than actually following the plot. Also, the relationship between Jo and Laurie? A bisexual nightmare. They knew exactly what they were doing with that casting decision, and I feel a little bit attacked by it. Anyway. This one might require a re-watch.
- I finally understand the fan theory that Jo’s character is queer-coded
I’m not sure how intentional this was, but I definitely felt like Jo was very queer-coded. While her “boyish” mannerisms and rejection of feminine gender roles could be read simply as a rebellion against the strict gender hierarchy of this time period, I also think that Jo’s story is very relatable for queer viewers. I know of many people who read Jo’s subversion of gender roles and refusal to marry as evidence of her queer identity, and I personally really resonate with this take. The costuming choices? Cutting her hair to provide for the family? Turning down Laurie’s proposal? The forced heterosexual romance plot at the end? So many moments could definitely be used to construct a queer read of Jo’s character. I also think Jo’s story is widely relatable to anyone who has felt confined by feminine gender roles regardless of gender or sexual orientation, so this reading is definitely only one of many possibilities. But as a queer fem person, I personally prefer the take that Jo’s complicated relationship with femininity goes beyond her frustration with the sexist society in which she lives.
- The extent to which this film represented positive relationships between women was really incredible
Considering how absurdly difficult it is to find popular media that even passes the Bechdel Test, this film was really refreshing. The exploration of mother/daughter and sister relationships in the film was so honest and authentic, and that’s not something I’ve seen done well often in media. Between joyful moments interacting at parties, tender acts of sisterly affection, fights that feel so big they can’t ever be resolved, and simple everyday moments together, the amount of positive representation of women’s relationships with each other actually made me really emotional. I think sometimes I stop noticing just how absent this kind of representation is in popular media, so to watch such a well-done, women-centric film feels comforting in a way that is difficult to describe. Hollywood, take notes.
- This whole film is a cottage core DREAM
This whole film is a cottage core DREAM!
Watching this film in 2020 when posts about cottage core have hit their peak was such a trip. The costuming? Brilliant. The set design? Outstanding. What I would give to spend the summer in a cottage with all of my sisters, enjoying my days outside in beautiful flowy dresses and my nights working on a novel by candlelight (ya know, without the wildly oppressive gender roles and all the other things that make romanticizing this era super, not the move). Anyway, this movie is absolutely beautiful, and I adore this aesthetic.
- I wish we got to see the rest of the characters in more detail!
I know this is a necessary evil of turning a novel into a film, but it’s super obvious that a lot of important context was lost. I didn’t feel like there was nearly enough time to establish the chemistry between Jo and Laurie, and there was ESPECIALLY limited contextual information about Amy and Laurie. We also received almost no details about Beth and Meg, and I wish we got more scenes that involved the mother and her relationship with Jo. I know it’s impossible to do all of that and keep the movie short enough to watch, but I would genuinely watch 5+ hours of this story with no complaints. At the very least, it definitely made me want to read the book ASAP.
I really adored this film, and I can’t believe it took me so long to get around to watching it. It was so beautiful visually and was such a touching story, and I can’t wait to have time to read the book.