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GINGER & ROSA – The Review

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Review by Barbara Snitzer

Ginger and Rosa’s plot is a compelling, dramatic, coming of age story of two best girlfriends that somehow is not nearly as entertaining a movie than this brief summary would promise.

Elle Fanning is flawless as Ginger, the young teenage daughter of ginger-haired Natalie (Christina Hendricks) who is separated from her father Roland (Alessandro Nivola), a pacifist of enough renown to provide Ginger with a lifetime of “daddy issues.”

Ginger moves in with her father to escape the domestic reality of life with a mother that refuses to live constantly charged with the fear of nuclear annihilation that permeates their daily life.  Director Sally Potter goes to great lengths to make us aware of the girls’ awareness of the threat which, while very real, does not effectively parallel the girls’ adolescent search for meaning to the degree she intends.

The movie takes its time, much longer than necessary, setting the stage for the drama that will ensure, and it is alienating.  The peace protests and girly activities feel like filler.

When the characters’ paths are finally set, the pace of the film is still slow.  While it’s completely believable that best girlfriends from childhood might grow apart from one another during adolescence, what breaches these two apart makes one wonder how their friendship lasted as long as it did.

While Ginger is enjoying her father’s attention, and that of his pacifist comrades, Rosa swoops in, knocks Roland off his pedestal, and takes to his bed.  Ginger’s devastation is deep and is depicted in many scenes.  Elle Fanning’s stellar performance enduring the betrayal by her best friend has the most energy in the entire film.  She doesn’t show off her talent, but the film in unbalanced when Ginger is the only clear character.  It’s unfortunate, as there is a great deal of talent in the cast:  Annette Bening, Oliver Platt, and Timothy Spall among others.  Fanning is also the only American cast as a Brit who can maintain her accent throughout the film, a slightly distracting quibble that is magnified when there’s not much else going on.

Perhaps those moviegoers who lived through the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962 will find this movie more enjoyable than I for nostalgic reasons.

3 of 5 Stars

GINGER & ROSA opens in St. Louis Friday March 29th at Landmark’s Tivoli Theater

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