“This is the really hard part, and then it gets better, and then it gets hard again."
20th Century Women is the story of three women who explore love and freedom in Southern California during the late 1970s.
Mike Mills (director and writer) has created a masterpiece that hits all the feels. This film made me laugh, cry, and question if I should even be frustrated with my life.
Exploring every character in a film tends to be very hard and frustrating—this is because every character can be shown without much detail or an unequal amount of. Mills has produced a collage of beautiful characters that are each relatable in ways I find comforting and discomforting.
Dorothea is a mother who raises her son, Jamie, in Santa Barbara. Annette Bening does the job well playing Dorothea. Her performance is so well done that I didn’t see her as an actress, but as a real mother, working to support herself and her son. She soon drowns herself in worry that raising her son by herself will not be enough. She seeks the help of Abbie and Julie to guide Jamie along his journey of self-discovery.
Abbie (Greta Gerwig) is a punk rock photographer twenty something year old who lives with Dorothea and Jamie. Abbie went to college in New York where she dated her college professor. Abbie believes she has found a way to be looked at by men—this can only be explained more by watching this film. Her outfits in every scene are so fucking cute, I might die. She’s very into photography, fashion, and letting others know what she believes in. She starts a photography project that involves taking a picture of everything that is happening to her. She snaps a picture of Julie. Julie says “I didn’t happen to you."
Julie (Elle Fanning) is a friend of Jamie’s. She is Jamie’s closest friend. Jamie is in love with Julie but Julie just wants to be friends. But she still sleeps and cuddles with Jamie, which just confuses him deeply. Julie loves Jamie but just as a friend. She seeks boys who are tough and confident for pleasure, although, she sees them all as the same kind of guy. There was a scene in the film where she describes the feeling of having sex with different guys and the sad feeling she receives after. The kind of guy who skateboards and smokes, looks like he doesn’t give a fuck. Julie explores herself through sex, and deep conservation with Jamie.
Through simple narration and scenes of each character, Mills studies and analyzes each character through emotion and feeling. What is so satisfying about 20th Century Women is that every character talks about how they feel. So not only are we seeing their actions or words, we are hearing how they feel about everything.
20th Century Women is now playing nationwide.