Ginger & Rosa (PG-13)

Drama 89 March 15, 2013
By Melissa Anderson
Private dramas unfold against the backdrop of broader historical terrors in Sally Potter's absorbing coming-of-age drama Ginger & Rosa, set in London in 1962 as fears of nuclear war loom. For Ginger (Elle Fanning), the more central of the two eponymous teenage protagonists, the world-- on both the micro and macro levels-- is about to burst. Best-known for 1992's lush Orlando, Potter here forgoes her earlier unconventional predilections for a simple, direct narrative, although she sometimes overemphasizes points she’s already made clear. The connection between nuclear bombs and nuclear families is made quite literal in the prologue: Opening with archival footage of an atomic mushroom cloud, the movie cuts to the birth of the title characters, both pushed out into the world the same year as the bombing of Hiroshima. Seventeen years later, best friends Ginger and Rosa (Alice Englert) have blossomed into self-dramatizing adolescents, always decked out in turtlenecks, toggle coats, and other Beatnik-inspired ensembles. Ginger name-drops Simone de Beauvoir and proudly announces that is going to be a poet, while Rosa favors more carnal pleasures. Their responses to radio broadcasts about nuclear buildup also reflect their diverging beliefs: Ginger thinks they should protest; Rosa suggests they pray. Although the climax is overripe and poorly paced, Potter restores the calmer, observational tone and mood that distinguish much of Ginger & Rosa in its closing minutes, a lovely summation of its main character's age-appropriate contradictions. Sitting silently, Ginger reflects, somewhat grandiosely, on what awaits her as an adult in a poem about the future-- verse that is rendered in the simple rhyming scheme of a child.
Sally Potter Elle Fanning, Alice Englert, Christina Hendricks, Alessandro Nivola, Annette Bening, Timothy Spall, Oliver Platt Sally Potter A24 Films

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