Saturday, August 12, 2017

20th Century Women

The only miss with this film is its title: that gives the idea that there will be a broad sweep across a variety of women whereas the reality is quite different. The focus is on three women and two blokes who live in a grand old house in Santa Barbara, and on 1979 in particular. 
Dorothea (Annette Bening) is Jamie's mother, William (Billie Crudup) and Abbie (Greta Gerwig) are flatmates and Julie (Elle Fanning) comes and goes as she pleases, as Jamie's closest friend. This is how we first see her
He is 15, and her sleepovers without sex are starting to bother him. His coming of age is starting to bother his mother, as she doesn't feel she can do all she can do as a solo mother to bring him up right, is feeling she is losing sight of him. She enlists Abbie and Julie as partners in the mission to bring him up as a good man.
I loved this movie so much - it is very funny, the characters are built up wonderfully and there's lots of music. Dorothea is into Sinatra and others of his time while Abbie is hitting the punk scene - there are several visits to a local club - and listens to bands like Black Flag and the Raincoats. Dorothea is not a fan: she says of the latter that they're not very good and know they're not very good. Abbie explains - they have too much passion, the need to express takes over the need to be good. Fairy Tale in the Supermarket is the track they're talking about:
I don't know that Julie was very into helping Dorothea bring Jamie up or that she did very much - which is fair enough, given that she's just a year older than he is, although they do have some frank discussions and she does cause his first heart-break - he's totally in love with her and idolises her, in a way she finds unrealistic. Abbie, on the other hand, lets her into her life - takes him to the club, to the hospital for her cancer visits and so on as well as has him read feminist texts - so that he has a fight with another boy: "what over?" "Clitoral stimulation." "The thing is, when a fellow tells you about his sex life, just accept what he says, don't break up his fantasy" (or words to that effect).
William really had nothing to do with Jamie and wasn't ask to help with the project, despite being the only man in the house, because he's not really appropriate. He does help Dorothea loosen up - the main narrative thread looks to her relationship with Jamie, and accepting both that she's doing OK and that he's an individual moving away from needing her help. 



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