INDIEWATCH: Elle Fanning shines in ‘Ginger & Rosa’

“Ginger & Rosa”
Starring: Elle Fanning, Alessandro Nivola, Christina Hendricks
Written, directed by: Sally Potter
Time: 1:30

Elle Fanning gives a nuanced tour de force in writer/director Sally Potter’s newest independent film, “Ginger & Rosa.

Fanning plays Ginger, a fiery-haired teen who, with the help of her life-long bestie, Rosa (played by newbie Alice Englert), gets into typical teenage shenanigans: missing curfew, experimenting with boys and alcohol. But what makes this film different than other coming-of-age flicks is it’s set against the backdrop of 1960s London and the start of the Cuban Missile Crisis.

The most prevalent theme in “Ginger & Rosa” is the feeling of helplessness that comes with adolescence and how that’s exacerbated for Ginger with the unknowns of (possible nuclear) war. As a viewer, you empathize greatly because isn’t being a teen hard enough?

Elle Fanning and Alice Englert star in “Ginger & Rosa.”

Fanning delivers such a powerful portrayal of anguish and rage, as a viewer, you’ll be captivated with her completely. Another notable performance is that of Christina Hendricks (Joan from “Mad Men”) as Ginger’s mother, Nat, who, even at age 30-plus still battles her own feelings of powerlessness as a woman in the 1960s.

Writer/director Sally Potter parallels their experience against the war, and Nat’s nontraditional husband, Roland (played by Alessandro Nivola) is the catalyst of further conflict when he entertains the interest of a younger woman. (No spoilers here.)

The lasting image of “Ginger & Rosa” is that through all of the tragedy (real or imaginary) of youth, those experiences make us the mature individuals we one day become. This film is poignant, well-executed and leaves a lasting impression. (You’re also glad to no longer be a teenager.)

“Ginger & Rosa” co-stars Annette Bening, Oliver Platt and Timothy Spall and is available for rent through Netflix, Blockbuster and Redbox. Grade: B

IndieWatch is a weekly review of independent film and documentaries.

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