Ginger & Rosa Movie Review
If there is one reason to see GINGER & ROSA, it is for the amazing performance by Elle Fanning. But in addition to Fanning and the rest of the cast, the story contains several affectively dramatic layers of extreme hardships through a variety of life experiences.
GINGER & ROSA takes place in London during the 1960’s. There is a great political and economical division among the people with the Cuban Missile Crisis as an emerging threat. Ginger (Elle Fanning) and Rosa (Alice Englert) are young girls who are madly in love with being best friends. But just as quickly as we see how deep their relationship is, we also see how truly different they both are. Rosa yearns to be loved, seeking out sexual relationships to replace her absent father. Ginger on the other hand, has deeper drives about the state of her land. She is moved and frightened by the political affairs of her nation.
Both are masking their emotions from the fact that they come from poor dysfunctional families. But Ginger is our heart and soul into the picture and the character the audience feels for the most. Her parent’s marriage is anything but orthodox hanging on by a thread. Ginger’s father who insists she call him Roland (Alessandro Nivola) is a writer and pacifist. Roland is very forthcoming about his feelings no matter who they may hurt. When Roland and Natalie (Ginger’s emotional mother played by Christina Hendricks) finally separate, Ginger wrongfully takes it out on her mother. She eventually asks to stay with Roland, who reluctantly obliges to share his studio spaced quarters. Unfortunately, with Rosa’s seductive advances and Roland’s wandering eye, Ginger’s worst nightmare between her father and her best friend is becoming dangerously real.
The story of GINGER & ROSA is one that isn’t necessarily groundbreaking. I’m not saying Ginger’s situation isn’t extreme, but we’ve seen films before where kids have to grow up quicker than necessary through unthinkable circumstances. Director Sally Potter does a terrific job presenting flat muted colors to bring the poverty and overall gloomy atmosphere to life. But as I said before, GINGER & ROSA owes a lot of credit to the impressive performances.
Annette Bening (AMERICAN BEAUTY), Oliver Platt (SIMON BIRCH) and Timothy Spall (HARRY POTTER AND THE PRISONER OF AZKABAN) do a great job in small but pivotal roles as support for Ginger, providing guidance and rationality that the character needs among such inept adult role models. Alessandro Nivola (JUNEBUG) and Christina Hendricks (TV’s ‘Mad Men’) also do a fantastic job, displaying a range of emotions. Then there is Alice Englert (BEAUTIFUL CREATURES) who plays Rosa with subtle cruelty while still being sympathetic. But the star here is Elle Fanning (SUPER 8 and younger sister to Dakota). Fanning captures a confused and struggling soul through bottled emotional anguish with surprising ease. She appears years beyond her age as she displays restrained maturity with a heart-breaking performance.
Due to the setting and era, GINGER & ROSA isn’t your typical coming of age film. But the depressing picture about a young girls struggle through family, friends and her place in the world is quite compelling, specifically from a strong performance from Elle Fanning.