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In 1979 Santa Barbara, California, Dorothea Fields is a determined single mother in her mid-50s who is raising her adolescent son, Jamie, at a moment brimming with cultural change and rebellion. Dorothea enlists the help of two younger women – Abbie, a...
20th Century Women, set in 1979 but using a biographical array of voices that provides much more than that one moment in time, is about a 53-year-old single mother (Annette Benning) who asks two much younger women (Greta Gerwig and Elle Fanning) to help raise her teenager, only she might come to regret it. A beautiful and honest film, full of truth, central among which that you can never truly know another human being, no matter how close, through your own assumptions and projections. Mike Mills' story is semi-autobiographical and though it seems like his female characters are vibrant, quirky and real people (more than the boy who stands in for him), he seems to admit in the text his incapacity to render them with fidelity. Overtly feminist - it's not exactly subtext - this political background does a good job, I think, of explaining what it is to have been raised in a modern matriarchy. (Guilty!) 20th Century Women renders a touching portrait of each of its characters, with interesting flights of structural and directorial fancy.
20th Century Women never makes it too much: always height just, never conceited. Through a brilliant BO, some magnificent plans, delicious dialogues, sometimes funny, sometimes sad situations (and which always make effect) Mike Mills delivers us a beautiful and sincere movie with three portraits of brilliant women and the portrait of an extremely moving young man. Enormous crush for my part.
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