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The story of three women who explore love and freedom in Southern California during the late 1970s.
20th Century Women movie full length review - 20th Century Women (2016)
Elle Fanning uggh yes. Okay, now that that's out of the way lets get to this film. This seemed like an unconventional coming of age film and that is basically what this was.
Its not a mindblowingly amazing film and has some flaws. However, what I thought was a flaw may have worked for another viewer. What I can say though, is that the film left a better impression on me than I thought it would.
The performances of this film are great, particularly that of Greta Gerwig and Annette Bening. Gerwig is such a real character who is pained but absolutely does what she wants to do in life. She has a hard time finding love but her very open nature makes her identifiable. Bening is tremendous in the best role I've seen from her. She's an easygoing mother who is worried about her son and how he deals with life. Remarkably cool but nuanced. Also, Elle Fanning good lord I love her. Okay, I had to get that out of my system again. All of the characters have substantial depth and you do not leave the film feeling like a character's story was underdeveloped. The main core of characters are all in close proximity with each other and through their interactions you get to see their turmoils, struggles, and comfortable nature with each other.
The stories of the characters of the film are at times told by themselves and they seem to be telling the story from a future time, where they have experienced the entirety of their lives. I liked this technique of expansive storytelling. However, there are other things in the film that don't work as well. The slideshow of images of the culture of the 70's seemed gimmicky and didn't exactly add to the film's narrative. It seemed like an attempt to be able to grab viewers but wasn't exactly necessary. There are also times where the scenes have a "psychedelic effect" where the car races off in the highway in a dreamy haze, full with the colors of the rainbow emanating from the car. Again, I thought this was quite gimmicky and trying to harden the fact that this film was supposed to be set in the 70s.
I think one of the things that worked with the film was its humor. There is a lot of it, and while its not always subtle and funny a good amount of it works to make you chuckle or really laugh. Its not something I was expecting but is definitely something that made the film more memorable. There are some scenes that really, really work and help you really want to live in the frame of the characters. The film really focuses on women at the time and a teenage boy trying to navigate in a sea of women in his life. While its not always accurate about men, I think its doing a pleasant job of trying to connect the two while showing some of the plights experienced when men and women try to understand each other. What you get here is a well acted, humorous films that works to entertain.