A deep and personal character analysis in the cinema these days is a rare phenomenon, but 20th Century Women managed to do exactly that as well as presenting a truly refreshing take on the 70s everyday life.
The film centers on the lives of three women from different generations, whose issues intertwine and paint a nostalgic picture of ideologically and politically difficult decade: a middle-aged lady struggling to cope with the modern world and parenting, a cancer survivor in her 30s, and a teenager who seems to be making all the wrong decisions.
The plot is overtly feminist, perhaps more than I expected from the trailer. An ultimate feminist Abbie’s (played by Greta Gerwig) attempt to speak about ‘menstruation’ at a dinner table, or educate a teenage boy about female sexuality comes across as endearing and innovative at the same time. It is sure to make each feminist today long for that ‘middle finger up’ attitude and apologetic optimism that understanding of women’s bodies and minds can be different.
"It is sure to make each feminist today long for that ‘middle finger up’ attitude"
While the structure is awkward in places, and jumping from one character to another makes it difficult to keep attention to the overall narrative, the artistic shots and angles are charming and gripping from the first scene to the last. The choice of labeling the movie as a ‘comedy drama’ is also unclear, as the comedic scenes are rare and even when they do occur, the feeling of nostalgia overpowers any attempt to make the audience giggle.
As this film doesn’t attempt to be a blockbuster, the screenwriting is clearly both artistic and accessible; for example, the clashing between generations is interesting to watch as writers attempt to make one movie about growing up and getting old at the same time.
Raw, sensitive and much more modern that it could be expected from a movie set in 1970s, it is definitely a must-see for all feminists out there. If you don’t consider yourself one, still go – it might surprise you.
More like this: Mistress America (2015)