Monday, 3 June 2013

Ginger & Rosa, dir/wr. Sally Potter, st. Elle Fanning, Alice Englert, Alessandro Nivola, Annette Bening

What begins as an intimate but coolly clinical observation on teenage friendship and trust soon segues into something altogether more overwrought and underwhelming in Sally Potter's latest, a film built with great performances without a suitably firm script as a stable foundation. Ginger & Rosa tells the story of two girls - Fanning as a burgeoning, flame-haired member of the emerging liberal intelligentsia, and her best friend, played by Englert, a dark-haired mischief-maker, eager to confront the early-Sixties sexual revolution head-on. As the Cuban Missile Crisis rears its head, both are drawn to the sense of community and passion the CND has to offer, but Rosa soon finds herself more attracted to men than marches, with designs in particular on Rosa's Dad, Roland (Nivola). The most fascinating part of Potter's desperately uneven film is this relationship with Roland and his daughter and the poetic and intimate way they interact, neither of them acquiescing to their obvious Father/Daughter roles. Roland, a writer and former political prisoner himself, engages with his daughter as a master might with his apprentice, although this highbrow exchange of respect derails once he attempts to rationalise his relationship with Rosa. Much like in Lars Von Trier's Melancholia, it is unclear where the impending potential East/West apocalypse is the cause for Ginger's anxieties regarding her transition into adulthood, and the short prologue showing a devastated Hiroshima ties in nicely with the industrial wasteland Ginger spends her time reflecting. At the age of 15, Fanning surely has much more yet to give, but her portrayal of Ginger is persuasively maudlin, if a little, like Christina Hendricks who plays her mother Natalie, uncertain in her accent. If it wasn't so wayward in its pacing and incongruously histrionic finale, Ginger & Rosa would have sparkled in its solemnity instead of being the frustrating curiosity it is.