It’s 1962 and, as the Cuban Missile Crisis unfolds, north London teenagers Ginger (Super 8‘s Elle Fanning) and Rosa (Beautiful Creatures‘ Alice Englert) find their lifelong friendship tested as Ginger is drawn towards political activism, while Rosa just wants to be loved.
Elle Fanning is luminous as Ginger, an impressionable teenager in an unconventional family. Her mother Natalie (Mad Men’s Christina Hendricks) is a frustrated artist, while her dad Roland (Alessandro Nivola) is a cool jazz-loving pacifist. When her parents come to blows and a nuclear attack on the UK becomes a very real possibility to her, Ginger seeks the counsel of her kindly godfather Mark (Timothy Spall), his live-in partner Mark II (Oliver Platt) and their feminist academic friend May (Annette Bening). Encouraged by this bohemian lot to live life to the full and not by society’s norms, Ginger soon finds herself on a very different path to that of her friend Rosa (Englert), who has been emotionally stunted by an unloving mother. For these two, the road to womanhood is a rocky one indeed, but not without some important lessons being learned on the way.
Its refreshing to see middle-class intellectuals take centre stage in a British film for a change and through her keenly-observed characters, director Sally Potter (Orlando) captures a snapshot of 1960s rarely seen on British screens. Poetic, romantic and evocative, Ginger & Rosa is an endearing coming of age story that should not slip under your radar.
Out now on Blu-ray, DVD and download, from Artificial Eye
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