It is 1979 and Dorothea (Bening), a woman who seems to embody all that was the sexual revolution of the 60’s, is faced with the reality of raising her 15 year old son Jamie (Zumann) in an ever changing world. Jamie is becoming his own man and the nurturing, hippie mother finds herself suddenly at odds with not only her son but the world she helped create.
Dorothea owns a dilapidated old house and to help support herself, she rents out some of its rooms to the eclectic, struggling artist Abbie (Gerwig) and handyman William (Crudup). These people, together with Jamie’s best friend Julie (Fanning) are the central people in Jamie’s life and it is to them that Dorothea turns when she no longer feels she knows her own son.
Set against the backdrop of US President Jimmy Carter’s ‘Malaise’ speech, this movie is a glance into a world at the precipice of major social and political change. Dorothea is so impacted by the President’s words, that she enlists the help of the bewildered Abbie and Julie, to help her make sense of everything for not only Jamie but, as it turns out, herself.
This movie is slow and quirky and takes it’s time building the characters and the story. It seemed a little full of itself in that oh so Indie way for a few moments but once all the pieces started coming together, it was a thing of beauty. These women are so vibrant and different from one another and this is the true strength of the story.
Bening is, as always, a formidable actress and Gerwig is fast becoming one of my favourites but it is Fanning who steals the movie. And how! I last saw Fanning as Aurora in Maleficent and far from allowing herself to be stereotyped as the cute blonde girl, she is stepping it up and taking on challenging roles that showcase her extraordinary skills as an actress.
The most surprising thing about this movie is why more people are not talking about it. It is a wonderful, wonderful movie that you should endeavour to see before the end of its cinema release.
And the movie’s final act is one of the most satisfying endings of a movie. Ever. It’s like all the gummy bears in the world organised themselves into nicely colour-coded rows just for you. *sighs*
4 ½ stars
Director : Mike Mills
Starring : Annette Bening, Elle Fanning, Greta Gerwig, Billy Crudup, Lucas Jade Zumann
Running Time : 119 minutes
Release Date : In Cinemas Now
If it's on in Newcastle, it's on Newcastle Live