Ginger & Rosa

Directed By: Sally Potter

Starring: Elle Fanning, Alice Englert, Alessandro Nivola, Annette Bening, Timothy Spall, Oliver Platt, and Christina Hendricks

There have been a lot of period pieces this month.  We've been taken back to post-WWII Germany and Japan in Lore and Emperor.  We've been taken to Chile back in the 1980s in No.  This weekend, we're being taken back to 1960s London during the height of the Cold War with the United States and the Soviet Union embroiled in a tense feud and the threat of nuclear warfare growing every day.  While history has been the central focus in all the other period pieces released this March, Sally Potter's Ginger & Rosa is not about tensions between two global superpowers.  It's about a disintegrating bond between two girls who once called each other friend.

Friends from childhood, Ginger (Elle Fanning) and Rosa (Alice Englert) have done everything together.  They've skipped school together.  They've wandered London together.  They've even hated their mothers together.  Like many childhood friends though, the two girls end up on divergent paths as they enter adulthood.  With the help of family friends Mark (Timothy Spall) and May Bella (Annette Bening), Ginger begins to protest the Cold War and the looming threat of the Americans and Russians nuking the world.  When Ginger's parents Natalie (Christina Hendricks) and Roland (Alessandro Nivola) separate, Rosa takes her opportunity to get closer to Ginger's dad.  As these two go down these very different paths, their once-close friendship hits the rocks.

Ginger & Rosa is an intriguing coming-of-age period piece about two girls who confront the reality that all friendships don't last forever.  They embrace young adulthood and adapt to the challenges of their day in ways of which their parents would disapprove.  With the historical backdrop of the Cold War and the free love of the 60s, director Sally Potter treats us to a nuanced drama about mothers, daughters, and the consequences of the lives they choose to live. It's an enjoyable, albeit predictable, indie film for this time of the year.

The cast delivers solid performances in the movie.  As Ginger, Elle Fanning continues to grow and showcase her abilities on the big screen.  The talented young actress gives an emotive performance that takes the film tonally where it needs to go.  As the other titular character Rosa, Beautiful Creatures star Alice Englert gives us a young, dark seductress whom we can all love to hate.  As Roland and Natalie, Alessandro Nivola and the beautiful Christina Hendricks challenge each other constantly and build a palpable tension that's undeniable.  Finally, veteran actors Timothy Spall and Annette Bening are welcome additions who have plenty of impactful moments in the film despite their limited time on camera as Mark and May Bella.

As much as I respect what the filmmakers and actors have done with Ginger & Rosa, I just can't buy into the film's central premise.  No sane child would sit back idly as their best friend sleeps with one of their parents.  Regardless of Ginger's issues with her mother, it's just not believable that she would live with her adulterous father and endure the nightmare of Rosa sleeping with him.  The average person is not going to just internalize this issue until he or she implodes.  The average person would voice his or her disapproval of the shameful relationship and probably would beat the hell out of their now former best friend.  With all this in mind, the film's major premise is not really believable.

Whether I can fully get on board with the film's central premise or not, Ginger & Rosa is an enjoyable piece of filmmaking that left me mostly satisfied.  With solid direction from Sally Potter and a strong cast, this movie manages to get the job done.  Ginger & Rosa gets a 0.06% rating.  Have a few glasses of Chardonnay with this one.