Film review: Ginger and Rosa
Director: Sally Potter
Starring: Elle Fanning, Alice Englert, Christina Hendricks
Release date: October 19th
London, 1962: inseparable young teens Ginger (Elle Fanning) and Rosa (Alice Englert) have been raised in a society all too aware of the destructive capabilities of nuclear war. As they grow from girls into women and begin to understand the threats in the world around them, their worries about their troubled family lives clash head on with their new political concerns.
While Ginger and Rosa is, at its core, a family drama, it’s very much rooted in the politics of the time rather than just throwing it in for cultural context. In fact, the first shot of the film is newsreel of the Hiroshima bombing before switching to London for the birth of these two girls. Throughout the film there are constant updates of the state of the Cold War through radio bulletins and character conversations. It’s this aspect that saves the film from being a fairly generic family drama, the threat of world destruction constantly looming.
Though it can be said for all the characters, Ginger is most blatantly confused by her situation. More interested in trying to save the world from nuclear holocaust than going to school, she tries to make sense of her confusion by writing blunt, awkward poetry. However, she’s equally helpless in doing anything about the Cold War as she is with patching things up between her parents (Christina Hendricks and Alessandro Nivolla).
As her and Rosa drift apart, her fears of the ‘end of world’ seem to become a reality with her personal life. This level of depth is all the more impressive considering lead actress Elle Fanning was 13 at the time of shooting; outperforming the rest of the competent cast to a ridiculous extent.
While the political aspects do add an interesting tweak to a personal drama formula the whole thing still feels slightly empty, no strong resolution reached one way or the other. This could be a positive or negative depending on what you’re looking for.
At times it dips into questionable melodrama and sometimes straddles the line between portraying pretentious characters and just being outright pretentious. But if you’re looking for an intelligent and somewhat thought-provoking female coming-of-age drama set in a very particular political context, your ultra-specific criteria have been met.
In a Nutshell: An interesting weaving of world politics and personal troubles that edge on melodrama but, on the whole, stays on track.