20th Century Women: Beautiful and Compelling
Ash Walker | On 20, May 2017
Mike Mill’s 20th Century Women is a delightfully intriguing film about the messy moments of life.
20th Century Women is set in Santa Barbara in 1979 and follows the story of a single mother, Dorothea, raising a son in a time fuelled by rebellion and social change. Dorothea (Annette Benning) recruits the help of the two women in her son, Jamie’s (Lucas Jade Zumann) life. Abbey (Greta Gerwig) a punk-loving photographer who boards with the family, and Jamie’s crush, Julie (Elle Fanning) a self-destructive teen, are tasked with helping Jamie understand who he is and who he can become.
The characters in this film bring their past, their faults and their struggles into the light trying to find acceptance. The film explores depression, cancer, feminism, love and simply how to wade your way through life. This is done so eloquently in a manner that is not only entertaining but entirely relatable.
Mill’s direction and screenplay weave together a patchwork quilt of scenes, each as memorable as the last. The use of flashback and monologues from the future play out like a single train of thought, constantly moving between where the characters have been, and where they are going. The montages of black-and-white archive footage take you on a journey through the past. In addition, the use of Jimmy Carter’s ‘Crisis of Confidence’ speech footage makes you feel as if you are back in 1979.
The actors in this film all have wonderful performances, each bringing a complex and imperfect character to life. Gerwig portrays her character with such stunning emotion and desperation; however, it is Benning who steals the show with her incredibly raw and seemingly effortless performance.
20th Century Women was nominated for an Academy Award and two Golden Globes. The film has also won a host of other various audience awards. The film is playing at the American Essentials film festival at Palace Centro Cinema in Brisbane this week.
This film will make your heart soar, your stomach drop, laugh out loud and most of all, it will make you appreciate the seemingly small moments in life.
20th Century Women is currently showing as part of the American Essentials Film Festival. For session times and more information on the festival, go here.
Images: American Essentials Film Festival, The New Yorker