Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Five Nights With...Elle Fanning: Ginger & Rosa

Continuing on from yesterday, today's review comes from 'Ginger & Rosa', a film that allows Fanning to show the maturity she possesses as an actress.  It's a phenomenal turn, possibly her finest, and serves as a truly tiered and progressive performance.  Watching her cycle emotions and capture not only the wide-eyed innocence and wonderment of a young teen but also the sexual confusion, curiosity and abandonment was astonishing to witness.

This was a surprising film for me, in many ways.  First, the only other film of Potter’s I’ve seen is ‘Orlando’, and I found that to be a seriously misguided mess.  When I saw her name splash across the scene during the opening credits I cringed a little.  Next, I had no idea what this film was about, outside of a friendship between the two title girls.  I kind of expected this to be a lighter film, and when the opening scenes came to life with teenage flaunting and flirting and awkward carelessness I figured I was going to get exactly what I expected.

And then things shifted.

The weight of the film came crushing down as the political and environmental and eventual moral cruxes of the film’s core came to life.  The basic premise follows two young girls, Ginger and Rosa, who grew up together.  Daughters of two friends, the two girls have a bond that cannot be shaken, despite serious attempts by life to do so.  Growing up in London during the Cuban missile crisis of the 60’s, both Ginger and Rosa have some serious issues to contend with.  Let alone the looming threat of extinction, but Rosa is a fatherless child and Ginger’s own parents are splitting up.  Color that in with some sketchy actions between Ginger’s father and Rosa and you have Ginger backed into a corner and completely torn at the seams as to what to do and how to proceed.  Her political activism and her father’s constant encouragement to break the rules and be her own person have her confused as to where life is going to take her, and her idealism and love of poetry truly make her a free spirit, trapped by the world around her.

Elle Fanning is a revelation here.  She gets so much of this young woman absolutely correct, and colors her in to perfection.  The rest of the cast is also top notch though, with Alice Englert haunting in the background and Timothy Spall, Oliver Platt and Annette Bening serving as not only some mild comic relief and also some moral compasses in a sea of moral dilemmas. 

Sally Pottor’s construction here is rather beautiful and calls to mind Jane Campion (who just so happens to be Englert’s mother).  She gives us overlays of scenes that come together quietly to develop characters and themes, and she allows the cinematography (stunning) to soak in the atmosphere and present us with something truly jarring.  It comes together rather nicely in the end, building to a climax and then simmering in a way that allows the audience to make their own decisions and draw their own conclusions.  I felt that some of the development (especially regarding Rosa) was too light and could have used a firmer hand, but the film has so many pluses that it is hard to fault it much.

I'd personally give this film a B+.  I'm not so sure what to make of the film Oscar-wise.  Apparently it was eligible last year despite not getting a proper US release date until March of this year.  Either way, it was never going to get serious Oscar play because of the independent nature of the film, but Fanning deserved an Oscar campaign for sure!

Tomorrow we'll be discussing David Fincher's first real brush with Oscar, 'The Curious Case of Benjamin Button'.  This should be a fun discussion since most everyone has seen the film and has an opinion about it.  It has it's staunch supporters and it's vagrant haters, and then some of us (myself included) rest in the middle somewhere.  If you have reviews or thoughts you'd like to share, post the link in the comments or you can email me at andrew.ellington@hotmail.com

Here are Josh's thoughts...
Here are Brittani's thoughts...

Until tomorrow...


  1. Great review! I have yet to see this, but it looks interesting!

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    1. She was truly extraordinary, and I concur on the scene you mention. I remember looking at my wife at that moment and telling her how unbelievably talented this girl is.

  3. I loved Fanning and Englert (both are on my current ballot), but I wasn't that enamored with the film. B- for me.

    Checked your AW ballot again. SO jealous that you got to see Ain't Them Bodies Saints! Glad to see Selena Gomez on top for now. I just hope she makes your final five. :)

    1. Be jealous! It was amazing. The more I think about it the more I'm in love with it. This year has been so rich with great films already. I'm tired of claiming everything a masterpiece...but I just...UGH!!!