Movie Review: 20th Century Women

Title: 20th Century Women
Director: Mike Mills
Screenplay: Mike Mills
Starring: Annette Bening, Elle Fanning, Greta Gerwig, Lucas Jade Zumann, Billy Crudup
Released: Dec 2016 (US), Feb 2017 (UK)


“My mom was born in 1924. When she was my age, people drove in sad cars to sad houses, with old phones, no money or food or televisions. But the people were real.”

20th Century Women shows that, no matter how old, we are always coming of age, absorbing new traits and moulting others. Continually, we gain fresh knowledge and learn about new things, all the while imparting and perfecting our wisdom as we traipse through a turbulent existence. Never stationary, we come to terms with past experiences and see old memories anew, forever revealing new layers of ourselves. No one is too old nor too young to teach or to learn. 20th Century Women is a film about growing and living, depicting the relationships and the fleeting emotions that form our lives.

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Annette Bening is mesmerising as Dorothea, a single mother attempting to understand and nurture her son in a time that seems so distant from her own childhood. She’s backed by two younger women, each with stunning individuality who are going through their own instability.

The film possesses such a terrific authenticity, which is bolstered by its use of prose and historic footage. It deftly avoids contrivances with a cast of well-written, fully-fleshed out personalities who embody their own thoughts are desires, and the cinematography and production design capture well the ambience of the late 1970s.

The plot unravels with great finesse and fluidity, with dialogue that is tremendously pensive and poignant. It’s depiction of the highs and lows and the confusion and comprehension of life is so fervent and genuine — it’s one of those movies that goes far beyond sole entertainment.

I feel like I could have sat through many more hours of those wondrous Californian vistas, accompanied by that dreamy principal theme, observing those truthful people, with their routine thoughts and emotions that feel so keen and touching and real.

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