Review: Ginger & Rosa

Ginger and Rosa

The Cold War and sexual revolution of the 1960s play as the backdrop of a story of best friends, Ginger and Rosa, as they grow up and apart due to their clash of goals and desires. The story begins in 1945 as the Ginger (Elle Fanning) and Rosa (Alice Englert) are born literally in the same room. From their very beginning they are as thick as thieves. Spending every waking moment and learning all of life’s lesson together. Ginger and Rosa seem more like sisters than friends.

In the beginning, Rosa is the more outgoing one who teaches the naive Ginger about how to kiss and smoke cigarettes. In some ways Rosa is seen as a poor influence by Ginger’s mother, Natalie (Christina Hendricks). Rosa has a very anti-establishment streak that is made obvious early on and continues steadily throughout the film. When the two girls get caught up with the idea of a nuclear holocaust they become obsessed with the idea of the end of the world; Ginger more so than Rosa. They both begin to head off to meetings promoting nuclear disarmament. Ginger is very gung-ho in her approach and begins to become a bit of an amateuer activist. At the same time Rosa is concentrating on persuading Ginger to go to church with her to pray on the situation. This was my first moment of seeing their growing divergence.

Ginger’s father Roland (Alessandro Nivola) plays a key part in the demise of Ginger and Rosa’s relationship. As a man who prides himself on being anti-establishment and fighting the system, Roland makes choices that take into account very little of what his daughter needs. The fact that he insists that Ginger call him by his first name only stands to reinforce their non-traditional relationship. Everything about Roland is contrary to what a normally functioning person would do. While the two young girls are growing up everyone around them minus a few are stuck in a perpetual state of adolescence. From Roland to Natalie, anyone who has a real hand in shaping the two girls is self involved or lacking the skills to guide a young person into adulthood. Due to this fact we have two people growing up rudderless.

Elle Fanning gives a stellar performance as Ginger. Bringing to the role a soft innocence with a budding sense of responsibility. She is a character who is on the brink of something, but she just doesn’t know what. That journey of discovery is what makes her complex and fascinating. Alice Englert presented Rosa as a rebel in the beginning but became rather subdued afterwards, her portrayal was fine but nothing mind blowing. Christina Hendricks as Natalie was on par with her standard performance on Mad Men. She was just there to dish out I told you so advice. One point of note was her English accent; not her best effort. Last but certainly not least, Alessandro Nivola’s role as Roland was fantastic. Playing a man with rock solid convictions but zero understanding of responsibility and frankly a habitual line crosser. Never understanding where the out of bounds lines are in modern society. Roland was all the while frustrating and intriguing, which to me makes some of the most memorable characters in cinema. All in all, the movie was an enjoyable walk through the hysteria of the Cold War mirrored by the hysteria of growing up rudderless with parents who were barely more than kids themselves. Go see Ginger & Rosa.

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