“20th Century Women” Review ✦✦✦✦✧

23 February, 2017

Director: Mike Mills
Screenwriter: Mike Mills
Director of Photography: Sean Porter
Annette Bening, Elle Fanning, Greta Gerwig

Synopsis: A single mother raising her teenage son in the late 1970s finds herself struggling to keep up with the times. Seeking a second opinion, she enlists the help of two women, one an eccentric artist, the other a promiscuous teen, who both agree to assist in the boy’s upbringing.

20th Century Women Review:

A flipbook tale of shifting sensibilities and limited lifespan, “20th Century Women” tells the story of a household of individuals whose dysfunctionality becomes a testing ground for conflicting ideas. Centring on a boy’s awkward transition into adulthood, the movie sees the coming together of a cancer survivor, a divorcee mother, and a quasi-girlfriend who each provide their own unique perspective on how a woman of traditional experience should nurture a child raised on punk music.

Aesthetically stimulating with subtle hints of Linklater and Kaufman, the film sympathises with an ageing mother whose house of strangers inadequately fills the void carved by her inability to grasp the significance of individuality in a contemporary world. While the movie is primarily concerned with conveying the upheaval attached to a particular chapter in American social history, Mike Mills’ fascination with context adorns his screenplay with an acute awareness of his characters’ past, present, and future as projected through the lens of womanhood. It’s through his overarching appreciation for life’s follies and foibles that Mills finds room for comedic giddiness as a trio of females linked solely through circumstance manage to create humour through their mismatched scepticism in the face of social convention.

Like a scrapbook brimming with old photographs, “20th Century Women” tells a story in framed snapshots. It’s a film of moments and memories recounted by characters who gain omniscience through voiceover while their interlaced narrations transform them into a single unit of emotion, experience, and expression. Unaware of the sheer hilarity that comes with their differences, the women become both rivals and equals, each bringing to the table something unusual while on a quest to overcome life’s hurdles. “20th Century Women” is both sad and uplifting, finding ways to comment on the human condition through incompatible people, places, and time periods as its characters cross paths only to later lose touch and move on with their lives.


Review Date
20th Century Women