Watch 20th Century Women
- 1 hr 58 min
"20th Century Women" is a 2016 drama film directed and written by Mike Mills. The movie came out of the Screen Actor's Guild readings and was produced by Megan Ellison. Annette Bening stars as Dorothea Fields, a 55-year-old determined single mother set in the 1970s in Santa Barbara. Dorothea wants to be sure that her son Jamie (Lucas Jade Zumann) grows up to be a good man, so she enlists the help of two women who she hopes can help her: her artistic and feminist tenant, Abbie (Greta Gerwig) and Jamie's longtime crush, Julie (Elle Fanning).
As Dorothea witnesses the changing world, she decides that itâs time to ask for help to raise Jamie, and she asks the two women to help lay out the ground rules on how to be a man. Despite their different backgrounds and temperaments, each of the women adds something special to the mix. Abbie is teaching Jamie the essence of human sexuality and creativity, always trying to transcend the material world, and Julie is Jamie's emotional outlet, providing him with support and friendship.
As Jamie navigates the familiar but sometimes rocky territory of adolescence, their three women friends guide him through the triumphant and tumultuous summer in which he experiences the joys of first love, failed tries at relationships, and dealing with complex emotions. As Jamie gets a step closer to adulthood, Dorothea is allowed to examine her own life choices and values, which makes her intensely aware of the events that shaped her life, such as the cultural changes that revolve around her.
Throughout the movie, we see them discussing the state of the world, pondering over the ever-present mysteries of love and sex, expressing their doubts, anxieties, and frustrations, marveling at the connections that give us meaning or push us apart. There are a lot of ingredients in "20th Century Women," and whether they come together to honorably illuminate the era remains, to some extent, open to debate.
Bening's Dorothea is compelling and vulnerable, especially as she edges slowly toward middle age and discovers late in life what she has spent most of her years pushing aside. Gerwig's Abbie is comfortingly familiar, whereas Fanning's Julie is mysterious, making the most out of her character's mystique. The combination of these performances feels just right to highlight the warmth, confusion, and pathos of Mills' grown-up coming-of-age movie.
The movie has a striking visual aesthetic that transports us to the period where it is set. From the fashion to the decor, every visual detail is meticulously crafted to create an immersive period piece. There is a festival of color schemes suited to the period that reflects the innocence and realities of the time. The music adds to the immersion as well, with songs that provide a time capsule of the movie's specific era.
In conclusion, "20th Century Women" is a poignant portrait of various social and generational conflicts, told through an interesting lens of the individual journeys of its female characters. The film successfully captures the spirit of a particular era, and through its quietly personal stories, it eloquently invites us to think about our growth, our past and our dreams. The performances are great, the visuals are striking, and the storytelling sends an urgent message about the vital importance of education, love, and contemporary culture.
20th Century Women is a 2016 drama with a runtime of 1 hour and 58 minutes. It has received mostly positive reviews from critics and viewers, who have given it an IMDb score of 7.3 and a MetaScore of 83.