Ginger & Rosa (2012)
By Keeva Stratton.
In 1960s London, two girls (Ginger, Elle Fanning and Rosa, Alice Englert) born on the same day form a special friendship. Through the good times and the bad, they are there for each other—at one another’s side for life’s most eventful moments: their first kiss, hangover and war protest.
Having remained at each other’s hip since birth, it is during these heady years of sexual exploration and self-discovery that the girls begin to take different paths. Their passions and their choices will prove the ultimate test to a friendship that had seemingly endured everything.
Growing up under the threat of nuclear war is especially hard for Ginger. She feels deeply affected by the threat, and channels her energies in protest movements, leftist arguments and autonomous thought. When her parents separate, she sides with her academic father, who seems to align with his daughter’s anti-controls ideology.
Having been imprisoned for refusing to join the army, her father is Ginger’s idol, and her mother, who gave up painting to raise her daughter, seems lifeless in comparison. It’s only later, when Ginger has experienced a bit more of her own life that she will look at her mother with new eyes.
Rosa is more concerned with exploring her sexuality. And this juncture in their views proves the ultimate test for their lifelong relationship. As she seeks to pursue a relationship with a much older man, it appears that for the first time Ginger’s and Rosa’s friendship may be at risk.
Ginger and Rosa is a coming of age tale that focuses on the distinct and powerful bond fostered through close female friendships. It’s set in a tumultuous time when fear was heightened through the Cuban missile crisis, when the uncertainty this created played heavily on the youth of its generation. Some chose to escape through sex, drugs and rock ‘n roll; while for others, it was cause for great intellectual debate and action.
Elle Fanning again confirms herself as a serious young talent (here she is 14, playing a 16-year-old, and doing so convincingly); and with Alice Englert (daughter of film maker Jane Campion) alongside, the two manage to capture the essence of a turbulent youth remarkably well.
The cast also brims with a host of talented supporting actors, from Oliver Platt to Annette Benning—and Mad Men’s Christina Hendricks momentarily sheds her bombshell image to reveal a beautiful portrayal of a mother and wife losing herself to a life that’s let her down.
Ginger & Rosa is an intuitive female story, told from a woman’s perspective, and it will no doubt resonate with its intended audience.
Directed by: Sally Potter
Starring: Elle Fanning, Alice Englert, Christina Hendricks, Oliver Platt
Release Date: playing now as part of Sydney Film Festival
Reviewer rating: 3.5/5
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