Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Ginger and Rosa

Back to ’62 (again), but this isn’t 
on the same level as An Education

     Going into Ginger and Rosa, I knew that Elle Fanning (Nowhere, Super 8) would be excellent and that either the subject matter or the story would be told idiosyncratically since it was written and directed by Sally Potter (Orlando).  It’s set in London around the time of the Cuban Missile Crisis and
focuses on two teenaged girls.  Rosa is from a broken family, Ginger from an unstable one, though the girls’ mothers have been friends from when they gave birth in adjacent hospital beds.  

Ginger's Family
     The social milieu is left wing, bohemian, and intellectual.  Ginger’s father, Roland, was a jailed pacifist during World War II and he wears that as a badge of honor while being barely able to provide for his family as a journalist and as one of his arrows for seduction.  Ginger’s mother, Natalie, gave up her artistic yearnings when she gave birth and we’re not certain that she’s married to Roland.  Natalie has some friends, who seem like they might be teachers or civil servants, though we’re not certain, but they’re all for nuclear disarmament.  Rosa’s father left when she was young and she’s experimenting sexually, while Ginger is trying to reconcile her relationships with her parents while also finding her voice as a poet.  

     I don’t want to say much more than that because it could put viewers off seeing it, either because it’s too much plot information or its plot is too seamy.  

Elle Fanning
Much has been made of Elle Fanning as Ginger and she is emotionally pitch perfect and seems genuinely English and of that period.  As one elderly audience member said, “I’ve never seen anyone who can turn on the tears like that.  Oh, here they come again.”  It’s tougher to do on stage than on camera, but she is remarkable.  However, so is the rest of the cast.  Alice Englert is heartbreaking as the desperate Rosa, who takes risks; none of which works out for her.  Alessandro Nivola has the toughest role as Roland, who’s a selfish creep at best and, for many, is a lot worse.  Nivola locates the charm and the despair in the character, who may be in the midst of a mid-life crisis or may just be that way.  

     There were questions that we had about the movie and, in all honesty, I don’t know if I missed some of the information because I was drowsy about a half hour in and if it hadn’t been for that loud, elderly couple talking, I might not have stayed focused.  
Annette Bening, Oliver Platt,
and Timothy Spall
Annette Bening is without vanity playing a small part with verve, while looking haggard, but I couldn’t tell if her character and Oliver Platt’s and Timothy Spall’s were gay or not.  Yes, it’s a testament to Potter’s reputation that she secures performers of this caliber, but she doesn’t do much with them.  Christina Hendricks is lovely as Natalie, but her chest looked like a lethal weapon in the final scene and how has she gone beyond ‘curvy’ or ‘full-figured’ into a nether region where Mamie Van Doren and Jayne Mansfield seem to have turned into conjoined twins?  If English homes weren’t so drab and pokey and the weather so miserable, would the characters’ lives seem better?  If Roland had painted the flat he moved into, he might not have had the energy to get into the trouble he did.

I like that Ginger was a ginger like me!

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