20th Century Women (2016)
The setting is 1979 Southern California. Dorothea (Annette Bening) is an older single mother with a teenage son whom she had when she was 40. She rents out her home to 2 other people, Abbie (Greta Gerwig) and William (Billy Crudup), and everyone gets along well. Abbie has cervical cancer and is having to deal with the fact she cannot have children. She has strong feminist views and is expressive about them even at the worst of times. William is a nice, gentle man who helps Dorothea fix up the house and generally causes no issues. Dorothea’s son Jamie (Lucas Jade Zumann) is learning about the world around him as he becomes an adult. His is in love with his best friend Julie (Ellie Fanning) but since they have known each other forever, she won’t allow romance to flourish even though she sleeps in his bed almost every night. Together these 5 people explore life, love and heartache during a specific time in history.
I have to be honest… I was hesitant about seeing this movie because it looked boring. Knowing that Annette Bening was the lead in a movie set in 1979 about feminism didn’t sound appealing because I was expecting something super dramatic and depressing. However, this movie wasn’t what I expected and I was pleasantly surprised. First thing I noticed was that it isn’t depressing nor is there a lot of fighting. There are sad moments, but for the most part, this movie is about love and life. The characters are the best part of this movie as their personalities carry the film. They are all unique and special and feed off of one another. Because of the simple and rather bland story, these characters have to be on point to keep the audiences interest and I think they do the job right. I really enjoyed how the characters were developed not only on screen, but through narration into each persons backstory (and at the end, their futures.)
Speaking of the story, there isn’t much to the flow of the movie. It is the kind of movie where we simply watch people live and experience life. There aren’t plot twists or major memorable moments so this is going to keep the rewatch value down, but that is the purpose of the movie so you can’t fault it for that. I just wish that something more emotional or special could have happened.
Overall, the characters and the acting are what make this movie really good and worth watching. There are enough happy moments and comedy to not make this a total bore for casual watchers, but I don’t see anyone watching this movie more than once as there isn’t anything needing of a 2nd viewing. If this sounds interesting to you, it was worth the watch.
7/10 Stars – It may not be the type of movie I normally want to watch, but the well-developed characters and the solid acting keep this semi-interesting plot afloat.