Review: Ginger and Rosa
PLOT: Two teenage girls, best friends throughout childhood, begin to grow apart during the tumultuous early 1960s in London.
REVIEW: GINGER AND ROSA is where Elle Fanning makes a name for herself. Previously best known as the lovable girl next door in SUPER 8 - not to mention her long tenure as "Dakota Fanning's little sister" - Elle delivers a remarkably tender and fine-tuned performance as a young girl being pulled in several different directions as she attempts to mature and decide the course of her future. The film she's in isn't quite as nuanced or remarkable as the young lady's performance, and though it has merits of its own, it's not inaccurate to say that Fanning is quite obviously the main reason to see it.
Sally Potter's narrative begins in 1962 London, when the Cold War was just kicking off, the sexual revolution was brewing and activism was all the rage among students. Ginger (Fanning) and Rosa (Alice Englert) have grown up together, by virtue of their mothers almost delivering them at the exact same moment. The two are inseparable, finding comfort in each other away from their tumultuous home lives: Ginger's parents are on the verge of separation thanks to her father's (Alessandro Nivola) philandering, while Rosa has no father figure at all, having been raised by a frustrated single mother.
Things begin to crack when Rosa forges a touchy friendship with Ginger's father, a pompous teacher who wears his pacifism and pretentiousness on his sleeve. Ginger, meanwhile, begins to find meaning in student demonstrations against a seemingly unstoppable nuclear war; she becomes obsessed with the idea that the world is on the brink of destruction, but perhaps even more heart-wrenching is the destruction wrought upon her and Rosa's bond by the latter's selfishness.
There isn't a whole lot to be said about GINGER AND ROSA; at least, that's this reviewer's personal opinion. is a rather slight coming-of-age story that is given some heft by strong performances by its young leads and a capable veteran cast (Christina Hendricks, Annette Bening, Timothy Spall and Oliver Platt all lend strong support). Potter employs a somewhat fractured storytelling style, quickly entering and exiting scenes before they're allowed to fully take shape, perhaps seeking to make us feel Ginger's emotional travails more pointedly. However, the effect is more distancing than entrancing. The film struggles to form enough strong material for the captivating Fanning to work with, although perhaps I'm not the foremost authority on the mysterious connections that teenage girls create amongst themselves.
And yet, GINGER AND ROSA has an opaque beauty to it that is undeniable, predominantly provided by the two leads; though it's Fanning's show all the way, Englert deserves mention because her Rosa's tense maturity perfectly captures the form of a girl who is growing up too fast, or trying to. Robbie Ryan's gorgeous cinematography too stands out, putting us right into each situation almost claustrophobically. But GINGER AND ROSA is ultimately not a wholly stirring piece, despite those notable positives.
|Extra Tidbit:||Ginger and Rosa opens in limited release on March 15th.|