Comedies don't get much darker than this pitch-black British movie, written and directed by Sally Potter (Ginger & Rosa) with lacerating irony and such a furious sense of humour that it's impossible to stifle our laughter no matter how we try. Impeccably played by a great cast, it's a lot like watching a play, as it unfolds in real time in a single setting with just seven characters. But Potter's decision to film it in black and white adds a sharp edge of surrealism that makes it also feel like a classic.
It opens as Janet (Kristin Scott Thomas) is preparing for a small dinner party to celebrate her appointment as a government minister. With something else on his mind, her husband Bill (Timothy Spall) is completely drunk before the first guest arrives, but Janet doesn't really notice. Her outspoken best friend April (Patricia Clarkson) turns up first with her German philosopher boyfriend Gottfried (Bruno Ganz). Next is feminist professor Martha (Cherry Jones) and her younger girlfriend Jinny (Emily Mortimer), who is pregnant with triplets. And finally it's the banker Tom (Cillian Murphy), hopped up on cocaine with a gun in his pocket. His wife is running late. And over the next hour, everyone lets a few secrets out of the bag.
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Ginger and Rosa are teenage girls in the '60s and have vowed to always be the very best of friends. Together they skip school, do each other's hair and talk about everything from politics to the latest teen magazine articles. Both of them lead difficult home lives, with Rosa struggling without a father figure in her life and Ginger's mother tied to the four walls of their home while her activist father fights against the Cold War. Both are wishing to rebel against their dull lives in search of adventure and fulfilling their dreams. However, as the threat of a nuclear apocalypse draws near, the girls are divided by the paths they choose to take; Ginger wants to follow in her father's footsteps and protest against the bomb threat, determined to stay alive, while Rosa just wants to spend time with boys and live the life she has now rather than worry about the furture. Unfortunately, it's Ginger's father Roland that she takes an interest in which only looks to cause more problems. As Ginger seeks the help and guidance from two gay men (both named Mark) and an American poet named Bella, plenty of relationships look set to fall apart and the conflict closest to home becomes the biggest threat in their lives.
'Ginger and Rosa' is a coming-of-age drama about the opportunity ridden world of the sixties directed and written by Sally Potter ('The Man Who Cried', 'The Tango Lesson', 'Orlando').
Starring: Elle Fanning, Christina Hendricks, Alice Englert, Annette Bening, Timothy Spall, Oliver Platt, Alessandro Nivola, Jodhi May, Oliver Milburn, Greg Bennett, Andrew Hawley, Richard Strange, Matt Hookings, Marcus Shakesheff,
Director: Sally Potter
Forget their billing as co-stars, there's only one star in town when Christina Hendricks makes an appearance on the red carpet, and Elle Fanning and Alice Englebert had to take a back seat to the 37 year-old as she grabbed the lion's share of the spotlight at a screening of Ginger & Rosa yesterday at the AFI FIlm Festival (November 7). Hendricks wore a sequined low-cut figure-hugging top that showed off her cleavage, matching it with an also-sequined headpiece.
An extraordinary cast lifts this grim British drama into something watchable, even if the script ultimately gives up trying to make any sense. The main problem is that the story is very badly fragmented, but it still captures a vivid sense of how it felt to grow up in 1962 Britain. And the actors give performances that bring the characters to life even in scenes that are somewhat melodramatic.
Ginger and Rosa (Fanning and Englert) are inseparable 16-year-olds who were born in the same hospital on the same day. As they both ponder the horrific possibilities of the Cold War, their reactions begin to diverge, perhaps their first disagreement ever. Ginger's parents (Hendricks and Nivola) are liberal-minded and about to separate yet again, so she takes a militant approach to stopping nuclear annihilation. Rosa lives with her deeply religious single mother (May) and believes that the only thing to do is pray about it. But the thing that drives a real wedge between the girls is Ginger's suspicion that her dad might be having an affair with Rosa.
In the early scenes, Potter establishes the girls as imaginative friends with free spirits who do everything together. Then the plot begins to take increasingly dark twists and turns, leading to a series of awkward or downright horrible confrontations that are freaky and emotional but also thoroughly mawkish. There's a lot of glowering and weeping on display from everyone on-screen. Fortunately Fanning and newcomer Englert maintain a loose honesty in their performances that helps carry us through the difficult moments. And the starry supporting cast is terrific.
Continue reading: Ginger And Rosa Review
"She" (Joan Allen) is a London-based scientist (born in Belfast, raised in America) whose open marriage to her stoic, stuffy husband (Sam Neill) is dying a slow, painful death. "He" (Simon Abkarian) is a cook from Beirut, who meets her at a party, beginning a torrid affair that puts both on a physical and emotional trek taking them to Beirut, Belfast, New York, and a groovy Cuba.
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Comedies don't get much darker than this pitch-black British movie, written and directed by Sally...
Ginger and Rosa are teenage girls in the '60s and have vowed to always be...
An extraordinary cast lifts this grim British drama into something watchable, even if the script...
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