After coming out of a father in his seventies, in the autobiographical Beginners, Mike Mills let the word to the women in his life in 20TH CENTURY WOMEN, a film that is resolutely feminist, delicate, and irresistible.
1979; Dorothea is a single son Jamie following his divorce. Born in 1924, became a mother at 40 years old, Dorothea (Annette Bening) is a child of the great depression to which solidarity and mutual aid are natural. She is living in his large dilapidated house in Santa Barbara that it is being renovated slowly with the help of William (Billy Crudup), his tenant. It is also home to Abbie (Greta Gerwig), a young photographer with red hair and Julie (Elle Fanning) the neighbor who takes refuge chastely all the nights in the bed of Jamie (Lucas Jade Zumann). The young man in the full mutation is therefore surrounded by women even though his mother has always tried to fill the absence of a father, encouraging him to surround himself with other men. But nothing, Jamie prefers to talk with Julie as climbing boards with William. Dorothea has always considered his son as a distinct person capable of discernment and choose to go to class or not. But when Jamie risk stupidly her life, she understands more and decides to seek Abbie and Julie to participate in its education, protect it as you would do with a sibling. Then begins to Jamie emancipation, a sentimental education, a feminist, and punk. On his side, Dorothea is going to have to learn to live with its time, because as modern as it looks, it seems outdated by this time in the loss of meaning on his music hardcore.
20TH CENTURY WOMEN started by the explosion of a car in the parking lot of a supermarket. Dorothea observes helplessly as his car go up in smoke and then invite the fire department involved to stop the fire at her birthday dinner. “You didn’t have to invite them to dinner, you know ?” he told his son. But for Dorothea, nothing could be more natural than to go to the other and to invite him to his table. The strength of Mike Mills is to immerse ourselves in his own memories of childhood (the story is again autobiographical), getting to plant a decor and draw characters through small things, a piece of music, Birkenstock the feet or clichés gleaned, as evidence of their uniqueness and their universality.
An account of the changeover from childhood to adulthood on a background of feminism and punk attitude Click To Tweet
If 20TH CENTURY WOMEN located in 1979 in the America of Jimmy Carter and his famous speech on the crisis of confidence of the american people, the film proves to be timeless in what it says of the changes in society, developments in thought as well as simple steps of a story replays without the end such as “As time goes by” , the song, the lighthouse of Casablanca. Certainly Mike Mills punctuates his film archival photographs that anchor the story in a temporality accurate, and constitute a sort of large photo album through the 20th century. But what has really changed ? Despite the wars, the sexual revolution, the arrival of new music, the rise of feminism, there will always be people conservative, advocating a return to back, or able to fight to avoid question their manhood and their ability to give pleasure to women as well as the scene where Jamie finds himself on earth, to have said to his aggressor the importance of the clitoris in female orgasm. Even today, while some question the right to abortion or the equality of the sexes, we can only be desolate to find that the combat feminist is far from being won !
The characters of 20TH CENTURY WOMEN to follow the thread inexorable of their existence between dreams and désenchantements with a fluidity moving and graceful, almost obvious. To question this would be to live more fully where the replica of Dorothea to her son who asks her if she is happy : “If you think about your happiness, necessarily you include depression”. The response of Mike Mills seems to stay more on the side of life. His story in the form of a chapter on each of the characters applies also to narrate voice-overs (that of Jamie’s or Dorothea) the history of each up to the end of the Twentieth century (the next century, seemingly already a story for another time), proof that no matter the stages of life, nothing is set in stone. This evocation sensitive to a changing world and the transition to adulthood reminds you of moments in Boyhood from Richard Linklater , in particular in the report of parenting. Dorothea regret of never knowing who is really his son, not to see change from the outside as others see it. Only Abbie or Julie discover that it is in the world (coming back from a party where she took Jamie, Abbie tends to Dorothea a photo of Jamie as she took in the evening as to heal this wound).
While the story sometimes lacks pace, 20TH CENTURY WOMEN is worn by actors and actresses all have great dialogues, deep and fair, and a contagious energy. At the end of the film, the voice over of Jamie became grand argues that it is impossible for him to explain to his son who was his mother. We can say that Mike Mills has been successful.
Anne Laure Farges
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• Achievement : Mike Mills
• Screenplay : Mike Mills
• Main actors : Annette-Bening, Elle Fanning, Greta Gerwig
• Release Date : 1 march 2017
• Duration : 1h58min