Cinema Clips: 20th Century Women

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Annette Bening, Elle Fanning, Greta Gerwig and Billy Crudup shine in Mike Mills’s ode to his unusual mother, who raised him in the late seventies and tried to like punk music as much as she could.

Bening is terrific as Dorothea, perhaps the best work of her career. She represents the late seventies woman, still cool but perhaps slowing down a bit due to too many cigarettes and a general disillusionment with certain aspects of the changing culture.

Mills uses Dorothea as a sort of narrator from the future who talks about the events of the film while observing from a perch in years ahead. It’s an interesting technique, and Bening’s performance is a career milestone.

Gerwig and Fanning are great as two different women who hang around Dorothea’s apartment, both with their own highly interesting subplots. Cruddup chimes in capably as a local handyman who will sleep with you if you ask him to.

I must add, I love the way this film utilizes music on its soundtrack, from Talking Heads to The Buzzcocks. This is a great, accurate depiction of the late seventies, with a vibe that feels authentic.

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