Ginger And Rosa

ginger and rosa

  • Wow. Just wow.
  • No film from 2013 has given me the power of emotion this one does. Anger. Sheer, unadulterated anger. At two of the film’s characters (I won’t name whom so as not to spoil anything).
  • And also equally intense empathy for the film’s lead. Or is it sympathy? Whatever it is, I desperately want to give our hero, seventeen-year-old Ginger (Elle Fanning), a hug. Then, when Ginger proves to be a more gracious and likely better person than me, well . . . I don’t know. I still want to give her a hug, if for different reasons. I’m not exaggerating. Such is the power of emotion this film evokes.
  • Writer/director Sally Potter treads a dangerous path here. She creeps on the border of melodrama, hangs on by two fingers and begs us not to push her over the edge. That she doesn’t fall is a testament both to her skill and also to her cast’s. By rights, the plot should have condemned this fiction to such melodramatic preposterousness that we could not possibly move beyond it. But it doesn’t.
  • Because the actors, as well as Potter herself, never let it.
  • Elle Fanning is astonishing, all the more so given that she is not British and had not yet seen her fourteenth birthday when she filmed Ginger and Rosa. I don’t know if Fanning is superior to Cate Blanchett in Blue Jasmine, but I do know Ginger and Rosa is much better than Woody Allen’s picture. Given that and given Fanning’s youth, Fanning is now my favorite for lead actress, at least for now.
  • I am going to give Elle Fanning a second comment. Because . . . well . . . because she deserves it. Honestly, if for no other reason than to see Fanning play Ginger, see Ginger and Rosa.
  • Alice Englert as Rosa and Alessandro Nivola as Roland are almost Fanning’s equal. None of the other principles miss a beat either.
  • I felt for Rosa, at various turns, every bit as much as I felt for Ginger, albeit in a very different way.
  • Equally beneficially, with Roland and Natalie (Christina Hendricks) Potter does not make the same mistake The Way, Way Back makes with Trent. Ginger’s parents are not evil. They are just very, very flawed, and seemingly unaware how much their mistakes traumatize their daughter.
  • The period details (the movie is set in 1962) are fantastic and further our understanding of these characters so deeply.
  • The subtlety in which Ginger and Rosa communicates its themes is powerful. Wow. Again.
  • If the film makes a mistake, it is in pacing. Narratives as depressing as this one often benefit from rapid pacing, but Potter doesn’t give us that. No, she moves her story and her characters along slowly, perhaps too slowly for some viewer’s tastes. I am not one of those viewers, however, which is to say I think Potter’s pace is fantastic.
  • About the most negative criticism I can offer is this: I would have liked one more scene in which Bella (Annette Benning) connects with Ginger. That might have made the film’s finale ring a tiny bit more true. But it’s a minor flaw. Very minor. This film is near perfect. At times hard to watch, because it is very dark, and not always entertaining (it is often more troubling than fun), but still near perfect.
  • While not precisely entertaining, Ginger and Rosa is great cinema. It can be hard to watch, but it is more than worth seeing.
  • Final Grade: A

7 thoughts on “Ginger And Rosa

  1. Wow!! Grade A, that’s excellence for me. I should chk it out.
    Empathy is when you put yourself in that persons shoes, and basically become that person psychologically, and understand what the certain person is feeling to a very personal level. Sympathy is when you feel sorry for a person, but with a certain amount detachment, but you do still care.
    Looks like you are in awe with Elle Fanning’s acting skills, I don’t think I know her, but her name sounds familiar. I haven’t seen Blue Jasmine either, but I’d love to. I generally like Alessandro Nivola as well (it depends on the role though).

    • Thanks for the comment!

      But don’t mistake me. I know the difference between the two emotions. Very well. Was raised by a single mom who happens to be a therapist, studied the stuff in college and teach it to my own daughters/students.

      I’m just not certain which I felt more strongly in this picture. Probably a combination of both, really. I am in awe of Elle Fanning, but I am also emotionally connected to her fictional character about as strongly as I have ever been to any other character in any other medium. Ginger is well written and well realized by all aspects of this movie, from Potter’s period details to Fanning’s performance.

      So. Yeah. Ginger and Rosa is certainly worth seeing. It’s upsetting, but that’s part of its magic, I think. I love when movies find so much humanity that they can make me feel the way this one does, even months after I watched it.

      Oh and Elle Fanning might be best known as Dakota’s younger sister. (That won’t last long if she keeps turning in performances like this one – soon enough Dakota will be the ‘other’ Fanning.) Elle also received critical acclaim for her turn in Somewhere (2010) and has appeared in a handful of other flicks.

  2. I saw this because of Fanning and I SO agree about the anger. I did want to just… agghghghghhh. I wasn’t a fan of the pacing, but I do agree that the period details were spot-on… great review, thanks!

    • It’s slow. I’ll give you that.

      But that doesn’t bother me, least not in this one, because we get to know the characters so well and are so immersed in their emotional experience that it the plot and the time it takes to resolve are secondary.

      And I saw this maybe four or five months ago. And I’m still angry. Like you said, just …. “Aaaaargh!”

      And Fanning. Holy wow, Fanning.

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