Ginger & Rosa may well be the most pretentious film of the year, and the most unintentionally hilarious. Frankly it’s so far up its own arse it can’t find a decent story to tell or a surprising twist to throw out. Ginger (Elle Fanning) has been best friends with Rosa since birth, but as they navigate their teen years, they start to grow apart. Nothing shocking there. They’re also obsessed, Ginger more than Rosa, with the Cuban missile crisis. This is supposed to be a compelling coming of age film, but with nuclear war being shoved down your throat at every turn and Ginger’s fascinating ability to turn the waterworks on at any moment, it ends being quite funny, for about half an hour. Then it just gets dull beyond belief.
The casting is a bit all over the place, for starters. Putting Americans with English accents next to Brits with actual English accents doesn’t work because the Americans will generally overdo it. It isn’t their fault, but it does make casting a bit interesting, and adds another humorous dimension. Christina Hendricks doesn’t belong in this film. Her role as the struggling mother doesn’t suit her and she constantly looks out of place. She looks like a Hollywood actress who gave it all up to move to 60s London. Her character is winsome and I wondered how much of the decision to cast her was because of Mad Men. She’s too glamourous and will never fit that role, no matter how many times you watch the film. Elle Fanning does okay, if you ignore the constant crying, but she can’t carry the film and after a while, her poetry makes you want to punch the screen. I’m not trying to take away from the Cuban missile crisis, I’m sure it was horrendous, but the way it’s hammered into the audience takes away from any tension you might feel and stops you from sharing the terror felt by Ginger.
Even Timothy Spall, who is actually good, can’t rouse interest, and the shoving of issues down throats really takes away from any enjoyment. There are a couple of entertaining moments with Annette Bening but the film is so quick to bore and so achingly pretentious that it becomes very hard to take it seriously. The lack of any surprise in the plot doesn’t help and when it descends into utter madness at the end, well let’s just say I was finding it quite hard not to giggle. It’s so ridiculous. You don’t need the constant talk of nuclear war on the radio and the characters need to give it a rest. We know the time they’re living in, they don’t need to harp on about it. It feels like the film is mocking the situation and given the gravity of it, that’s hardly ideal.
Maybe I’m too heartless/thick for this film. I found it very hard to care about the characters. Hendricks is distractingly out of place and I ended up being more interested in how they do their eyeliner. The sense of relief when the credits rolled was palpable. If I ever have to sit through this film again it’ll be too soon. As for the scoring, I’ll have to give it something because it exists and maybe one more mark for being only 90 minutes.
Director: Sally Potter
Stars: Christina Hendricks, Elle Fanning, Annette Bening
Runtime: 90 mins
Country: UK, Denmark, Canada, Croatia