Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Ginger and Rosa (2012) New York Film Festival 2012

Sally Potter's Ginger and Rosa contains a performance from Elle Fanning that is almost certainly going to earn her an Oscar nomination, if not the Oscar itself. It's a great performance that grows even more amazing when you see Miss Fanning in person and listen to her decidedly American accent.

Set in 1962, when the world is on the brink of nuclear annihilation, this is the story of Ginger and Rosa, two friends who's mothers gave birth to them at the same time in the same hospital. Stumbling through their lives the pair is trying to find their ways. Frightened by the brinkmanship of the superpowers, the pair take their youthful zeal and get involved in anti-nuclear protests in the hope of ending their fears. Things begin to come apart when Ginger's parents separate (yet again) and a betrayal threatens to rip the friends apart.

Beautifully acted and stunningly photographed this is as well made a movie as you are ever likely to run across. This is one of the best produced films I have ever seen where everything you could ever want is in a movie...

...unfortunately writer/director Sally Potter has crafted a film with a screenplay that only has one real character Elle Fanning's Ginger.

Now, before I talk about Potter's script let me wax poetic about Elle Fanning. This is performance for the ages. This is a performance people are going to be talking about. This is a performance that may get her an Oscar. Fanning makes Ginger a confused, frightened and very real young woman. She is every young woman who ever was frightened by life and wounded by it. You can see her pain in every look and gesture...

Watching the film I was blown away by how good she was. Frankly I had no idea who she was. I kept wondering where Fanning was because I couldn't find her. I mean she's an American, isn't she?

Yes she is...a fact that was driven home when at the press conference the blond young lady answered questions with an animated excitement that I've only seen in young girls who are at a rock concert. I kept looking at her and going this blond haired young lady was the red head in the movie...no...no... but it was it really was.

I can't tell you how amazing this young lady is. Anyone who can vote for the Oscars should be given a DVD which not only has the movie but a copy of the New York Film Festival press conference so you can see what she has done...

And I want to be on record that I will be willing to smack any Academy member who doesn't vote at least an Oscar nomination for Fanning on the grounds she is too young and can win it later. Screw any Academy member who has that attitude, if she's this good again she deserves to win multiple Oscars.

Okay, now on to Sally Potter's script... I'm annoyed with it. The film, which creates one of the most wonderful central characters as you are likely to run across, really doesn't have any other characters.

Well it kind of has two others. Rosa, is a force in the early part of the film, but she eventually grows silent and kind of becomes a non-entity even before her betrayal of Ginger. Roland, Ginger's Dad, is definitely a presence, but after a certain point his say one thing do another attitude becomes one note.

Strangely the three most memorable people aside from Ginger are the characters played by Timothy Spall, Oliver Platt and Annette Benning. The two gentlemen play friends of Ginger's mom and Benning is a friend of theirs.  The characters as written are little more than wise sages or a Greek chorus that Ginger talks to about her troubles. There isn't much there... except in the hands of these three grand thespians who turn the weak writing into three of the most memorable characters in the film.

To me the lack of characters outside of Ginger  is what undercuts the film and makes this just a good film instead of a great one.

The film premiered last night at the New York Film Festival, It played earlier today and has one more screening tomorrow at 9PM. The film is getting a brief week long run in theaters for award consideration before getting a full release in the new year.

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