At the Movies: Ginger & Rosa

NOTE: You’re probably wondering what this is doing here instead of “GI Joe: Retaliation.” Well, the first available screening was Saturday morning during Comic Con (Who schedules a GI Joe screening opposite Comic Con? Am I right?) so I missed it. The second one was Tuesday night and by that time I was on I-70 bound for the family’s 2013 Spring Break destination: Jefferson City. Because nothing says Spring Break like the state capitol of Missouri. 

“Ginger & Rosa” is a British drama featuring an impressive performance by Elle Fanning stuck in a less than impressive story.

Ginger (Fanning) and Rosa (Alice Englert) are teenage best friends growing up in London in the height of the Cold War. Ginger is terrified the world is going to end at any minute in nuclear fire. Rosa isn’t quite as concerned. While the title implies this is a story about both girls, the focus is clearly on Ginger.

12860Ginger lives in a loveless home with father Roland (Alessandro Nivola), a professor, writer, womanizer and cad; and mother Natalie (Christina Hendricks), who gave up her life as an artist to be a homemaker. Roland gets tired of Natalie’s attitude and moves out. Ginger, also feeling mother is too overbearing, moves in with Roland.

Ginger spends a lot of time with a trio of lefties (Timothy Spall, Oliver Platt and Annette Bening) and becomes politically active in trying to ban the bomb. Rosa is more interested in boys, or rather men, or more specifically — one certain man. You can probably figure out who. This creates a serious rift in Ginger and Rosa’s BFF status.

Written and directed by Sally Potter, “Ginger & Rosa” is the kind of movie that’s popular among critics-and-art-film set but it’s not my cuppa tea. The early going is so plodding and slow that for a while I thought I was watching a Sofia Coppola film. But then the plot kicks in and it gets worse.

It’s not only that I don’t approve of the relationship between Roland and Rosa, it’s that it’s handled in such an unbelievable fashion. They don’t even try to hide what they’re doing from Ginger and are oblivious to her feelings. It just didn’t ring true. And it all comes to a head in a wash of melodrama.

Still, Elle Fanning deserves the acclaim she’s received for her emotionally powerful performance. Too bad it isn’t in a better film.








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