Ginger & Rosa Movie Review
On the one hand, it's yet another coming-of-age drama set in the 1960's. On the other, it stars Elle Fanning, one of the most talented young actresses of her generation. Ginger & Rosa capitalizes on Ms. Fanning's talent - she delivers an emotionally devastating performance - but the performance is largely squandered by a dramatically dull story.
Fanning stars as Ginger, a teenage Brit who was born the day the bomb was dropped on Hiroshima. Set in the early 60's, she has grown up passionately discussing politics, war and love with her best friend Rosa (Alice Englert), all amidst the threat of nuclear holocaust. She and Rosa have a special connection, which is made even stronger by the separation of her parents - her mother (Christina Hendricks) is more or less a traditional housewife, while her father (Alessandro Nivola) is a proponent of freedom and experimentation.
By freedom and experimentation, he means screwing his daughter's best friend.
While everyone turns in fine performances, it is Fanning who unsurprisingly steals the show. Her perfect life crumbles around her seemingly overnight and she, a passionate teenage girl, reacts accordingly. Her character is in many ways mature for her age, but when all is said and done she is as fragile as any other teenager; few other young actresses could straddle the line as well as Fanning. Her performance allows you to connect with her character on a visceral level. She makes you want to care.
Unfortunately you won't, because Ginger & Rosa is a largely flat affair.
The movie is not a completely wasted effort, as scene by scene it generally works. But the synergy of the pieces isn't there; the story feels incomplete, as do the emotional journeys of its characters. Writer/director Sally Porter needed to dive deeper and to do more with her set of characters, an interesting and eclectic bunch in which sparks could fly if given the right material. Unfortunately, she doesn't and they don't.
Ginger & Rosa isn't a bad movie; it just isn't as interesting as it probably seemed on paper. Elle Fanning makes up for some of this, but ultimately her great performance is lost among a story that cannot support it.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.