‘Ginger & Rosa’: A poet is born
A review of the impressionistic coming-of-age movie, “Ginger & Rosa,” which stars wide-eyed Elle Fanning.
Seattle Times movie critic
“Ginger & Rosa,” with Elle Fanning, Alice Englert, Alessandro Nivola, Christina Hendricks, Timothy Spall, Oliver Platt, Annette Bening, Jodhi May. Written and directed by Sally Potter. 90 minutes. Rated PG-13 for mature disturbing thematic material involving teen choices — sexuality, drinking, smoking, and for language. Guild 45th, SIFF Cinema at the Uptown, Lincoln Square.
An impressionist portrait of an artist as a young girl, Sally Potter’s “Ginger & Rosa” takes place in 1962, as the threat of nuclear war looms large for an East London teen. Ginger (Elle Fanning) wants to be a poet, but her life isn’t exactly lyrical: her parents (Christina Hendricks, Alessandro Nivola) have separated, her best friend, Rosa (Alice Englert), becomes romantically attached to Ginger’s father, and nothing in the world — particularly the bomb — makes sense anymore. She reads T.S. Eliot — “This is the way the world ends” — while clutching a teddy bear, in that teenage way of simultaneously clinging to childhood and seeking maturity.
Shot at close range with handheld cameras, “Ginger & Rosa” is told from Ginger’s point of view, and as such emerges as a celebration of 14-year-old Fanning (“Somewhere,” “Super 8”), whose wide-eyed face lights up the film and who’s long demonstrated a very grown-up gift for acting. Here, peering from behind a thick, unruly curtain of autumn-red hair, we watch Ginger as she quietly registers the failings of her parents, tries to act grown-up while sipping a beer (she grimaces at the taste, but sweetly tries to hide it), giggles in a bathtub with Rosa as they try to shrink their new jeans, lies alone on half-frozen ground staring and wondering at the vastness of the sky.
“Ginger & Rosa” ends abruptly, not providing answers to many of its questions, but you sense that this pale, growing-up-too-fast girl at its center will one day be a poet; finding words to convey what she can’t yet say.
Moira Macdonald: 206-464-2725 or firstname.lastname@example.org