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Home Reviews LFF 2012 Reviews London Film Festival Review: Ginger and Rosa
London Film Festival Review: Ginger and Rosa Print E-mail
Written by Ivan Radford   
Sunday, 14 October 2012 10:53
Alice Englert, Dakota Fanning in Ginger and Rosa
Director: Sally Potter
Cast: Elle Fanning, Alice Englert, Christina Hendricks, Alessandro Nivola 

Would you leave Christina Hendricks for another woman? It’s hard to imagine any bloke choosing to, but Roland (Nivola) does exactly that in Ginger and Rosa. Rosa (Englert) is the object of his new affections, an underage girl with a wayward attitude beyond her years – just the thing to fit his principle of breaking all of society’s rules. But what makes the transgression even worse? She’s the best friend of Ginger (Fanning). His daughter.

That’s just one of a string of life-shattering events in Ginger’s turbulent teenagehood. It’s 1962. Britain is in the middle of the Cuban Missile Crisis. And that fear mixes with a growing self-awareness that sends Ginger’s swiftly fleeting innocence into a tailspin.

“We were full of doubt and fear,” her mother (Hendricks) reminds of her own childhood during World War II. “Bombs were falling all the time. Nothing was certain.” Ginger hits back: “What's the difference?”

It’s a breathtaking, extraordinary performance by Fanning – even more incredible given she was only 13 at the time. Convinced everyone could cease to exist at any second, her existential panic only pushes Rosa further into her father’s arms; a terror that comes to life in one devastating scene, when she overhears them having sex, which sees her whole world end, not with a bang, but with a whimper.

Her dread is offset nicely by Englert’s carefree presence. An equally stunning turn, her blossoming child is alluring, naïve and captivating to watch. Together, they make a convincing pair, their conflicted relationship overshadowing Potter’s period-perfect sets and carefully picked ensemble (watch out for a delightful Annette Bening and Timothy Spall). The two girls are so engaging, in fact, you almost don’t notice Robbie Ryan’s eye-huggingly gorgeous cinematography.

An emotionally charged coming-of-age film, Ginger and Rosa is a lovely showcase for two rising stars. If the title wasn’t already so fitting, you could easily rename the film to “Give Elle Fanning a BAFTA”. The extent to which you can swallow the intense passion on display will depend on your stomach for angsty teen poetry, but this is proper British storytelling that hides its slightly heavy-handed script with a classy finish.

“Our mothers are pathetic. They don't believe in anything,” cries Rosa while running through cobbled streets. Maybe it’s not so hard to see why Roland would leave Christina Hendricks after all.