Born Radicals

Ginger and Rosa

ginger_and_rosa

Director: Sally Potter

Cast: Annette Bening, Elle Fanning, Alice Englert, Christina Hendricks, Alessandro Nivola, Jodhi May, Timothy Spall, Oliver Platt

British director Sally Potter renown for such art house films as the brilliant Orlando starring Tilda Swinton and The Tango Lesson, comes up trumps with her latest film Ginger and Rosa, featuring the uber-cool cast of Elle Fanning as the vulnerable Ginger, Alice Englert as the seductive Rosa, along with a supporting cast of Christina Hendricks (Drive) Alessandro Nivola (Coco Avant Chanel) as Ginger’s father Roland along with Oliver Platt, Timothy Spall and the always brilliant Annette Bening (Being Julia, Bugsy, The Kids are Alright).

Ginger and Rosa follow the entwined story of two girls born in 1945 as Hiroshima was decimated by a Nuclear Bomb ending World War II and traces their radical progression into adulthood in London in 1962, characterized by a growing social disenchantment with the establishment. The fact that Ginger’s Mom Natalie an aspiring painter turned housewife played superbly by Hendricks and her pacifist and ultimately selfish father Roland played by Nivola are not exactly conventional, helps in Ginger realizing her taste for social activism drawing her to the CND. As both teenage girls experiment with sex, booze and drugs, Ginger turns more to the growing Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) which was fuelled by her awareness of the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962.

Ginger whilst reading T.S. Eliot’s poem The Wasteland, soon finds herself got in a private crisis as her promiscuous friend Rosa puts their relationship in a delicate and complex situation. Rosa’s absence of a father figure spurs an inner sexual rebellion as her seldom seen working class mom Anouska played by Jodhi May last seen in the World War II drama Defiance, leaves Rosa feeling neglected and continually searching for love.

Sally Potter is clearly enchanted with Elle Fanning the younger sister of Hollywood actress Dakota Fanning and her performance in Ginger and Rosa is flawless conveying a wondrous vulnerability about the challenges of youth. Elle Fanning has become the darling of Art House cinema being cast in Sofia Coppola’s tale of a father and daughter’s relationship in a celebrity obsessed world in Somewhere and now Ginger and Rosa. Elle Fanning first came to attention in J.J.Abrams brilliant homage to Sci-Fi in the film Super 8 and has since caught the attention of cinema’s more influential female directors like Coppola and Potter.

Whilst the supporting cast in Ginger and Rosa are superb, especially Hendricks and Nivola as Ginger’s Bohemian parents and the rare glimpses of Annette Bening as a hardened radical feminist Bella who eventually coaxes the truth out of Ginger’s psychological and social dilemma, the film remains Elle Fanning’s with the cinematography capturing the intensity of activism versus vulnerability on the young Ginger as she negotiates a more complex environment both domestically and socially.

Ginger and Rosa is an intelligent exploration of betrayal, activism and social comprehension in a world which has become increasingly turbulent especially in the face of growing distrust of established social conventions governing family, relationships and role models in the light of a broader context of a society which is turning to radical activism as the main form of protest against Western governments using its nuclear power to obliterate cities and the pure carnage of war as illustrated in the post-World War I T. S. Eliot poem The Wasteland published in 1922.

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