7 April 2014

Bradford International Film Festival: Ginger & Rosa (2012)


Genre:
Drama
Rating: 12A
Venue:
Bradford International Film Festival
Watched:
5th April 2014
Director:
Sally Potter
Cast:
Elle Fanning, Alice Englert, Annette Bening, Christina Hendricks

Ginger and Rosa proves to be the least experimental, and therefore the most conventional, film in Sally Potter’s oeuvre. That is not to say she is becoming more conservative or depoliticised with age, for at the heart of this film, like in many of those that came before it, is a passionate exploration of gender politics. The film opens in 1945 with images of the explosion and devastating aftermath of the atomic bomb before cutting to the birth of the title characters, creating, quite literally, a parallel between nuclear bombs and nuclear families. By 1962, with the Cuban Missile Crisis looming large, cracks begin to appear in the otherwise inseparable relationship the two protagonists share. Ginger (Elle Fanning), following in the footsteps of her intellectual father Roland (Alessandro Nivola), who spent the war in prison as a conscientious objector, responds to the crisis through political activism, while Rosa (Alice Englert) suggests prayer. Central to the film is the different, and shifting, family dynamics at play and the way they impact each character, with the way they affect Ginger’s mother Natalie (Christina Hendricks) being finely observed. The emphasis remains with Ginger though in the way that Rosa and Roland’s betrayal, a betrayal which results in the film’s emotional climax, shapes her outlook. There is a hint of the personal at play in Ginger and Rosa. The realism feeling as if it comes from personal experience. Potter has said, “Every story to some degree has to draw on personal experience. Magpie-like, you scavenge, and then you transform until it is its own world. But I did grow up during the Cuban missile crisis. I was on Aldermaston marches from the age of 10, I was very, very aware of the nuclear threat and I grew up in a left-wing, outsider, academic milieu. But it's a fiction.” Fictional it may be but by drawing from her own experiences Potter has created her most accessible film. Through making a film about adolescence and about growing up in uncertain times, Potter as created a film that will resonate with and appeal to its audience.

★★★1/2
Shane James

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