20th Century Women - 2016
20th Century Women is a story of a makeshift family in 1979's California, trying to stay together through some rough times. The story centers around the mom, Dorothea (played by Annette Bening), and her journey to understand what type of person her son, Jamie (played by Lucas Jade Zumann) is becoming.
Director Mike Mills gave this simple and grounded story, a truly unique style. Mixing in narration and flashbacks with unique visuals, making the audience feel they are in that era. He showed a great eye for comedic timing and demonstrated a great use of camera work. The screenplay felt very personal and almost a love letter to his mother, very much as his 2010's Beginners was a love letter to his father.
Dorothea and Jamie have a great rapport, in where they constantly challenge one another to grow and to be honest in their relationship. Their fights felt real, almost to a point that they feel like Mills pulled it from the memory banks of his childhood.
Within the makeshift family we find Abbie, played by the underrated Greta Gerwig, a thirty something punk/art/feminist, who is currently renting a room in the house. After Dorothea asks for her help in raising Jamie, she takes it upon herself to expand his knowledge on music and what it means to be a gentleman toward women. One of my favorite aspects of the movie is that there are a few scenes where the characters read famous literature works. One of the books Abbie gives Jamie is about the female orgasm and this leads to one of the funniest scenes in the movie, as he debates with a skater if he actually did pleasure a girl.
We realize Dorothea didn't really need help to raise her kid, she hasn't so far with the father out of the picture, she just wanted an insight into his world, as a human being and not her child. Having Abbie be her eyes and ears was her way to be there but also give him the space needed for him to find his own way in this world.
This movie is also about women, having three female characters each in different stages of their lives (one in the teens, one in the thirties and another in her fifties), and their fight to belong in the world. How women are in charge of raising men and yet society paints them inferior (specially in the 70s) and this movie (with the feminist movement as a backdrop) explores what it is to be a woman from three very different points of views.
This is a beautiful story of how, as we grow, we constantly need to reconnect with the people we love. Trying to understand and appreciate the things our love ones hold in high regard, even when you don't understand why.
This movie made me realize that I see my parents as only that, my parents, and never as human beings that had and have dreams and desires. Mills painted a beautiful picture of what his mother used to be, a flawed woman that always tried to be ahead, professionally and personally. Someone that gave everything to her son and to the people around her, but always called out when someone was out of line. 20th Century Woman gave me a new perspective and curiosity as to what and who my parents are, and that why I love movies.
This movie was a great escape and I highly recommend it. See it if you can.