Review by Geoff Jenke
20th Century Women director Mike Mills won an Academy Award in 2011 for his previous movie Beginners. With 20th Century Women he brings us a richly multi-layered, funny, heart stirring celebration of the complexities of women, family, time and the connections we search for our whole lives. The movie is loosely based on Mike Mills own upbringing.
It is the summer of 1979 and the film is the story of the struggles of Dorothea Fields bringing up her 15 year old son, Billy. They live in a bohemian household shared with three like minded spirited people to help pay the rent. Having trouble talking to her son she enlists the help of two other females in her life to share the burden of his upbringing despite the fact Billy doesn’t feel he needs help. One, Abbie, is a free spirited punk artist and Julie, a savvy and provocative teenage neighbour. Throw in William, the handyman who is renovating Dorothea’s house while living there and slowly life unravels for them all without understanding why.
The characters in 20th Century Women are intriguing and watching the movie you cannot help but feel love for them all. The performances of the actors are outstanding. Set in 1979, it has the look and feel for that time. In fact you almost believe it was made in 1979.
The soundtrack is another thing of beauty. You have classic songs by Devo, Talking Heads, Black Flag and The Clash alongside Benny Goodman and Louis Armstrong.
At times the film is funny, has some great conversational pieces and yet at the same time moving.
Although I was not sure at times where 20th Century Women was headed (I am still not sure) it is a wonderful piece of cinema and one you should not miss. A gem!
Out now at Palace Cinema’s.
Directed by Mike Mills
Starring: Annette Bening, Lucas Jade Zumann, Greta Gerwig, Billy Crudup and Elle Fanning.