Opening May 18, 2017
Directed by: Mike Mills
Writing credits: Mike Mills
Principal actors: Annette Bening, Greta Gerwig, Lucas Jade Zumann, Elle Fanning
20th Century Women revolves around three women referred to in the title and is simultaneously a coming-of-age story. In 1979 Santa Barbara divorced, single mom Dorothea (Bening) is a warm, New Age-y but strong figure who takes in boarders to keep up the rambling house she owns. Abbie (Gerwig) is a punk photographer and William (Billy Crudup) acts as handyman in lieu of paying rent.
Dorothea and her 15-year-old son Jamie (Zumann) are trying to understand each other and their different mindsets from being of different generations. In fact, Jamie explains all of Dorothea's actions as a result of her being raised during the Depression. Dorothea wants Jamie to grow up but not so fast. She enlists the help of Abbie and Julie (Fanning), Jamie's best friend since forever, to help him grow. The results are a strong interest in feminism and confusing feelings for Julie. All the while Dorothea presides as the idealistic head of the household who imbibes the home with open-mindedness and curiosity.
The movie takes various forms. Jamie does voiceover biographies of everyone; there are lots of stills and technicolor. We see clips of the ‘70s - society, music groups, politics including Jimmy Carter's crisis of confidence speech. It is a restless affair but Annette Bening holds it together. (Thelma F.)