Little Women

Last night I watched my first best film of 2020. I know the year has just begun and there will be so many great films that will come to the fore but no matter what, Little Women will top the list for me even then. Even though it’s an adaptation of a well known novel by Louisa May Alcott that many of us have read while growing up and there have been numerous adaptations of the book in the popular media but this one surpasses them all by a huge degree. For all those reading ahead, there might be spoilers and if you haven’t watched the film, I suggest exercise restraint before you read further.

The story is about a modest family going through the challenges of domestic life centred around the March sisters in ways that are relatable, inspiring and empowering in its portrayal. The film moves through the perspective of Jo March, who is hellbent on carving an identity for herself and not succumb to the pressures that a woman often caves in and eventually gives up on her ambitions. She works as an anonymous writer in New York where she keeps visiting a publishing house often submitting her work under the name of another friend cause she feels like her mother wouldn’t be happy with the kind of gory writing that she is into to earn some money in order to support the family. Friedrich who is another professor at the house where Jo lives happens to read some of her writings and on giving her an honest feedback, Jo is hurt and breaks their friendship. Soon after she also receives a letter from her mother informing her that her youngest sister Beth has gotten sicker. The story keeps cutting between past and present. As Jo returns home and Amy has met their childhood friend Laurie (played by the gorgeous Timotee Chalamet) again, the movie goes back to the time when they all met for the first time. There are some tender moments in the movie where Laura Dern who is playing their mother (fondly called as Marmee) comes home one Christmas morning when the girls are excitedly waiting for their mother to join them for breakfast requesting them to give their food to their needy neighbour and her starving kids. She tells them their father (who is at the American Civil War during that time) would’ve done the same and reads a letter from him to them.

As the film continues, Laurie starts to befriend the March sisters since he is the only and a lonely guy in the neighbourhood. Beth, the youngest of them all finds a fancy with a huge piano at their house and Laurie’s grandfather even lets her play it since she reminds him of his dead daughter. During one of the times, Jo, Laurie, Meg and Laurie’s professor go to the theatre which angers Amy and she ends up burning Jo’s writing that leads to a huge fight among the sisters. Amy soon realises her mistake and tries to make up to Jo but she doesn’t give in. Next day, Jo and Laurie are out skating when Amy follows them and ends up falling in ice cold water. This saddens Jo who realises that how could she be so selfish that she didn’t care about her sister’s well-being. Her mother explains to her that how she reminds her so much of her younger age and Jo is surprised to know their mother who she has always known to be so patient and resilient could have been temperamental ever. To that Laura Dern tells one of my favourite moments between a mother and daughter, “There are some natures too noble to curb and too lofty to bend.” This is followed by Meg (who has always been a good actress) falling in love with Laurie’s professor and deciding to get married which Jo tries to resist since she thinks that her sister shouldn’t be giving up so easily on her dream of being an actress. She tries to convince Meg by telling her that both of them will flee to New York where Jo will work as a writer and Meg can pursue her theatre and both of them will never get bored of each other. Meg then tries to assure her that just cause their dreams aren’t similar doesn’t mean that they are unimportant.

One of my another favourite moment is when Beth makes a shoe for Laurie’s grandfather as a token of gratitude for letting her play piano at their mansion regularly. This makes his grandfather so emotional that he ends up gifting Beth the piano with a heartfelt letter of how even after owing so many pairs of shoes, hers make him feel the best. Throughout the movie one wants to see Jo and Laurie end up together but you also know that somewhere that’s not going to happen. Laurie confesses his feeling to Jo and she simply turns him down saying if they get married, eventually he will get bored of her writing and she wouldn’t be able to adjust to his lifestyle and then they will squabble and it’ll be horrid. And in that moment Laurie tries to convince her by saying that they’ll be enough but Jo simply isn’t prepared to give in yet. It makes you sad cause you want to see them together and you are like why is she giving up every good thing coming her way cause she thinks it’ll hamper her personal liberty. After this they go their separate ways and in the present Laurie’s path intertwines with Amy who has always loved Laurie but never wanted to be a second fiddle to her sister.

Beth and Jo spend a lot of quality time together since she is trying to help her sister feel better. Beth requests Jo to write something for her and thus begins a serious of heartfelt stories and the subsequent demise of Beth that pushes Jo back into resuming her novel. The grief of her sister is too much for her to bear and she starts finding solace in writing. During this time she also realises that love and companionship is probably what we all eventually need and she tells her mother that perhaps she was too quick in turning down Laurie and if he asks her again, she will probably say yes. To which Marmee asks her, “Do you love him?”. Jo responds “I care to be loved. I want to be loved.” Marmee: ” That’s not the same as loving.” This is followed by a powerful monologue by Saoirse Raonan, one of the best I have watched in a long long time.

Amy finally comes home with Laurie to announce that they have gotten married and this hits Jo like a rock but she pretends to put up a happy face for her sister. During the time when the entire family is spending good time together they have an unexpected visit from Friedrich (the professor from New York who likes Jo). And somewhere you know where the movie is headed and although Jo and Laurie do not end up together, but she eventually finds her happily ever after in Friedrich, under the umbrella 🙂

I personally loved how Greta Gerwig has portrayed every character so strongly that it makes you feel empowered and you simply cannot help but marvel at the way small yet important nuances have been highlighted. Little Women for me is a winner in every sense. Too bad the Oscars didn’t see the beauty of it.

Different Shades of Her

Women form one of the most apt case studies of insights in psychology and behavioral patterns. I say that due to my innumerable and perhaps close interactions with a variety of women all spread across a dynamic age group and exhibiting strikingly contrast thought processes. It has always intrigued me to study them closely, the way they talk and carry themselves in public, the way they behave around friends and ultimately how they are when they are all by themselves. I have been able to slot them categorically based on their behavior, perception of the world, relationships, men and how they project themselves and wish to be perceived by the world as well as by the opposite sex.

1. No Nonsense, No facade!

These are the women who believe in maintaining an honest and transparent image, irrespective of the company and the expectations of people around them. For them, being who they are matters more than what the world wants them to be. They are blunt (don’t mistake me for rude. There is a difference between blunt and rude), sharp, intelligent and smart. They take pride in who they are and will not sacrifice something that they truly believe in. This type of woman is independent but she craves for love and companionship. It might not be the ultimate goal of her life but if she finds a compatible partner she will settle with him eventually.

For her, her pride and self respect matter and she will not compromise even an ounce to take shit from others just because doing so makes them happy. She is the successful goal-oriented woman who will do whatever it takes to achieve her goals. She will fight the world but not compromise on her ground no matter the given circumstances.

2. The Homemaker

For them all they aspire and wish to do is to keep their families content. Every group in college has this one girl who probably has the best brains and smartness one can ask for but unfortunately for them life is all about cracking new records in the kitchen. She is the woman who gets married as soon as college is over to the man her family chooses for her even if she might have been in love with someone because common, ‘how can I hurt my parents or ruin my family’s name in the society just for the sake of a man?’ I mean with no offense to the sentiments of the women who fall in this category, but I somehow find it difficult to digest the thought process that pushes one to take this decision. Agreed, we all live in a society and there are certain societal norms that one is expected to follow but when will you realize that social structures and norms is a very subjective phenomenon. We the people of the society determine the rules that will guide us. Without giving in to the pressure, it would be good to see women take a bold step and decide who she will choose to get married to than someone else determining your happiness. Go find the man who gets the best out of you. Make use of the degree that you worked so hard for and don’t make it like a priced possession to display to your kids.

Let there be no room for if’s and but’s because remember, ‘Change is the only constant.’

3. Dreamcatcher

That’s right. If all of you know what a dreamcatcher is then you know what I am talking about. This woman loves her dream life so much so that she creates an illusional life in her real world by creating situations or portraying herself as someone who she is not. She loves living the real life by keeping her eyes closed because dreams are way better than reality. She will victimize herself simply to gain sympathy from others and believe me when she does so it is convincing to the T. Even when she is caught making up things, she will refuse to extricate herself from the burden of having to maintain a facade but infact fall deeper in the obscure web of her illusions. For her maintaining the virtual image matters more than the real self and in this race, the real is lost in a maze. I feel pity and sad for such women because there is a problem at the psychological level where there is a need to tread deeper to understand the real person behind the veil only if she is willing to let someone though it. Nevertheless, she is a great storyteller and God help the one who falls prey to her.

4. Cynical Aunty

They have a knack of making even the wonderful things appear ordinary cause not that they are difficult to please but somehow the art of appreciation continues to defy them all the time. Be it love, life, work, family or friends this woman will never cease to find faults in situations that come her way. You can never be sure of what she is thinking at any given point of time or what her reaction is going to be in a given situation because she loves giving contrasting reaction even if it is unnecessary. You definitely don’t look forward to being in the company of such women and in case you are stuck with them, if you are someone like me you make sure to maintain safe distance just to avoid a heated argument that could worsen the cynic in them.

They will never make an effort to change their attitude cause according to them they are the victims of life where happiness and success continue to elude them and their life story forms the perfect premise for the next Sooraj Barjatiya film. If only they understood the worth of the wondrous beauties that life has to offer and how it makes one feel. Till then, happy cribbing!

5. The Sucker

They are the most unfortunate women I have come across in my life. They are the ones who make one man/ event as their centre of gravity and behave in a manner as if the world will come down crashing on them if they do not win over that man/ event. They are always ready to compromise on their values and ideologies, give up on people and things which could be dear to them because their centre of gravity is their driving force and winning over that gives them the ultimate high in life, however momentary that could be. For the world, they might portray themselves as being this hedonistic and strong willed woman but go weak in their knees when it comes to this one person. This person has the power to manipulate and use the sucker in these woman for their own benefit. It is a mutually gratifying relationship where one is willing to sacrifice her all and the other gets everything he wants. Wonder, how they last.

6. Forever Confused

They will never be sure of what they want in life or how they feel cause their opinions are based on the perceptions of people around them. Usually, women like these possess the herd mentality and cannot take decisions for themselves due to excessive dependency on their families or friends who have controlled major part of their lives. Even when it comes to a relationship, they are the shuttlers who cannot find love and companionship with just one person and hence end up breaking their hearts more than once. If you ever ask them for an opinion, they will have an ambiguous response cause they have never taken the pain to exert pressure on their grey cells that must have started to decay by now. You need to be aware of such ladies because they are highly unreliable when it comes to acting true to their words.

7. Miss Perfect

I envy the miss perfect ladies. They somehow have a great life with an amazing family,  best job, great set of friends and a supportive partner. They might not be the best but great at whatever task they do and make sure to excel in the fields they are in. They are the ones who get to go on these amazing road trips or treks to the mountains all the time filling you with morose about your current situation and bank savings every single time. They are the pep talkers and happy go lucky souls and it feels great to be surrounded by such women. They are the strong women who cannot and will not rely on anyone and everyone to lend them a shoulder to cry on in trying times. They are independent, self reliant determined to carve a niche for themselves in this patriarchal world of men.

How I wish their numbers were more than the rest.

8. Mystique souls

Mystique women love living in a parallel world. There are two versions of such women,. One that the world witnesses on the surface and the other is the hidden personality that finds an outlet to express herself in the parallel world. These women are always submerged deep in  their thoughts and have a calculated approach towards life. They will talk only when it is absolutely necessary, will divulge selective information about themselves and have fixed set of friends. They are limited certain inhibitions or social restrictions that prevent them from expressing their inner thoughts and desires and hence they wish to do in their parallel lives. They deliberately don’t mean any harm to the people they love but for them having a parallel life is important so as to function normally in the real world. It is quite interesting to be around such women because they offer you a unique perspective which others cannot.

 

 

PS: This article is purely based on my interpretations of interactions with women I have come across and need not be taken personally.