Director: Sally Potter
Cast: Elle Fanning, Alice Englert, Christina Hendricks, Alessandro Nivola
Running time: 90 minutes
Plot: Inseparable best friends Ginger (Fanning) and Rosa (Englert) find their futures on rocky ground as the threat of nuclear war – and desire – tear them apart.
With the brilliantly talented Elle Fanning at the forefront of GINGER & ROSA (accompanied by the beautiful Christina Hendricks and with ‘cameos’ from Timothy Spall and Annette Bening), Sally Potter’s (RAGE) latest outing wasn’t likely to fail. With such gorgeous cinematography and some very feeling-fueled performances, let’s just say it doesn’t disappoint.
Both born near the end of WWII, Ginger and Rosa are brought up together on the same London estate, by two stressed-out housewives. Set 17 years later in 1962, the pair are pretty much inseparable – they share everything, even down to the same, identical outfits. However, when the threat of nuclear warfare heightens and it’s reported repeatedly over the radio, the friends agree to ‘do something about it’ by joining a protest group. But when Rosa’s attention span floats away towards boys and – more importantly – love (which she ‘finds’ in a rather uncomfortable place), she leaves Ginger behind to deal with the world’s impending doom (and her parents erratic relationship) alone.
As I’ve said, Fanning is superb. She manages to cry on-cue without making it look forced, and the climatic end sequence is just breathtakingly honest. There’s a sense of realism in the film, especially with the themes and locations, and Elle’s natural talents definitely accentuate the feelings of ‘realness’. Hendricks is much the same, proving she’s more than just ‘the body’ (in fact, she’s covered up for the whole film). She fits the ‘young mother’ role extremely well, showing off just how talented she really is. I think the only thing that let me down from the both of them are their (at times) rather wooden accents, which sometimes take away from the emotion of a scene. The rest of the cast are brilliant, if a little unlikable (I’m looking at you, Nivola). Although I’m doubting it’s not just me who felt it, it’s made pretty clear within 20 minutes of the film’s beginning that Ginger’s father, Roland, is not to be trusted.
I think the other element that let me down a little is the awkwardness of the plot points. I can believe that two teenage girls would want to fight for the right cause and help ‘save the world’, but what comes after (or rather, during) is uncomfortable, intense and very dramatic. Nevertheless, you can’t deny that the film is shot beautifully, with plenty of close-ups and soft focus to emphasize the raw emotion of Fanning and Hendricks. I very much enjoyed the exploits of GINGER & ROSA, even down to the rather ambiguous ending.
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