DVD: Ginger & Rosa | Film reviews, news & interviews
DVD: Ginger & Rosa
Sally Potter's drama of teenage friendship and betrayal implodes in its final act
Sally Potter has forged an admirable career as an independent British filmmaker. She has avoided formulas, made daring visual experiments, and been committed to a highly personal art cinema. Among her movies, there have been two dazzling achievements, The Gold Diggers and Orlando, and an audacious vanity project, The Tango Lesson.
It’s arguable, however, whether Potter has developed as a muscular storyteller. Set in 1962 against the background of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament and the Cuba missile crisis, her depiction of the collapsing friendship of 17-year-olds Ginger (Elle Fanning) and Rosa (Alice Englert) suggests an intriguing metaphor: the threat of global obliteration twinned with the volatility of girls on the cusp of womanhood. Their journey is absorbing as far as it goes, but it disintegrates in the botched third act.
'Ginger & Rosa' has an impressively claustrophobic, pre-Beatlemania mood
Earlier, the seductive Rosa has committed an emotional outrage against the politically conscious protagonist Ginger – one likely to leave her with an irresolvable Electra complex. The same outrage causes another character to lose control, plunging the movie into melodrama. Unforgivably, this superseding of Ginger’s crisis knocks her journey off its axis. Sandra Goldbacher’s comparable girls' tale Me Without You (2001) made no such structural error.
Atmospherically photographed by Robbie Ryan, Ginger & Rosa has an impressively claustrophobic, pre-Beatlemania mood that aligns it with the British New Wave. Perplexingly, the casting of five American actors has robbed it of vital Englishness. As well as Fanning, there's Christina Hendricks (miscast as Ginger's unfulfilled mum), Alessandro Nivola (fine as Ginger's bohemian pacifist dad, a rationalising philanderer estranged from his wife), Annette Bening (a rote feminist), and Oliver Platt (one half of a gay couple with Timothy Spall).
The two young actresses are commendable: Fanning,13 when she made the film, is restrained as the bewildered seeker Ginger, though she's too much of a beacon marching at Aldermaston with her fake red hair. The Australian Englert (Jane Campion’s daughter) is equally effective as Rosa, whose narcissism sanctions treachery.
Watch the trailer here
Subscribe to theartsdesk.com
Thank you for continuing to read our work on theartsdesk.com. For unlimited access to every article in its entirety, including our archive of more than 10,000 pieces, we're asking for £2.95 per month or £25 per year. We feel it's a very good deal, and hope you do too.
To take an annual subscription now simply click here.
And if you're looking for that extra gift for a friend or family member, why not treat them to a theartsdesk.com gift subscription?
Charlotte Rampling and Tom Courtenay shine in Andrew Haigh's wintry marital drama
Arch reimagining of a gruesome 1976 proto-slasher film of the same name
Finely formed tale of battling the odds from the director of 'The Page Turner'
Uneven TV travelogue from the maverick director
James Franco nears rock bottom in London-set thriller
Georges Franju’s 1960 auteur horror feature remains fresh and still disturbs
Outstanding documentary reveals how movies offered escapism and salvation for a family living in the shadows
Iranian director Mohsen Makhmalbaf's anatomy of tyranny in collapse
Aberrahmane Sissoko's essential reflection on the occupation of the Malian desert town
Alejandro Jodorowsky returns as a director after three decades with a wild take on his own childhood
theartsdesk recommends the half-dozen top movies out now
Autobiographical account of National Service days lacks fizz