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20th Century Women


Stars: Annette Bening, Greta Gerwig, Elle Fanning, Billy Crudup, Lucas Jade Zumann, Alison Elliott, Alia Shawkat, Nathalie Love

Director: Mike Mills

There are lots of amusing lines, nice touches and nuanced performances in this ensemble piece, though I'm not quite sure they add up to a whole film.

It's 1979, and long-divorced Dorothea (Bening) lives a higgledy-piggledy existence in a large old house with her 15-year-old son Jamie (Zumann) and her lodgers, henna-haired Bohemian Abbie (Gerwig), recovering from cervical cancer, and husky handyman William (Crudup), who Dorothea feels is 'not appropriate' for her, though he soon adds Abbie to his string of conquests.

And then there's Julie (Fanning), who spends more time in Dorothea's house than her own, often climbing scaffolding and/or trees to Jamie's bedroom, although they don't have sex. This frustrates Jamie, especially as Julie is something of a teenage nymphomaniac.

Though quirkily entertaining, however, these characters are difficult to warm to. Even though their abnormal lives will end in normality their impact on our emotions is minimal. As a high-quality acting class, however, this couldn't be bettered.

David Quinlan

USA 2016. UK Distributor: entertainmentOne . Colour by MPC.
114 minutes. Not widescreen. UK certificate: 15.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 1, Violence/Horror 0, Drugs 1, Swearing 1.

Review date: 26 Jun 2017

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