Ginger And Rosa

Ginger And Rosa


Reviewed by: Anne-Katrin Titze

Sally Potter's Titian-tinted Ginger And Rosa radiates positive energy through an electric Elle Fanning as Ginger.

We begin at zero hour, 1945, with bombs and births. Hiroshima and a London hospital with two women in adjacent beds giving birth to two girls, Ginger and Rosa (Alice Englert). Cut to London 1962 and the teenagers are best friends, dress alike, practice kissing and smoking, interrupted by giggles, and play the remnants of childhood games. Boys are nameless, faceless shadows, props to explore, but really of very little importance. Radio announcements talk daily about nuclear threats. Ginger's father Roland (Alessandro Nivola) is an active pacifist and teacher, her mother Natalie (Christina Hendricks) has given up painting, which is held against her by her husband when it suits him.

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Rosa has only an overwhelmed mother, Anoushka (Jodhi May), since her father left, and for both girls, the relationship with each other is their central anchor, or so it seems. The teenagers have lovely long hair, which Potter films as if it had life of its own - it is protection and ornament for them, and more than that. They are Snow White and Rose Red protesting to ban the bomb, attempting to grow up.

Ginger is only a nickname, we find out, the girl's birth name is Africa, in reference to Freud, who said, "the sexual life of adult women is a 'dark continent' for psychology". "She should stick with Ginger," says Annette Bening's character Bella, who functions as one of Ginger's three strong-willed fairies. She could always "move up to scarlet," as in fiery, not O'Hara. The other two friends and godfathers, slightly mysterious and friendly are a couple played by Timothy Spall and Oliver Platt, who take Ginger out of her environment for short necessary moments. "The English need their parks to get away from each other," we learn from them.

The girls take a bath in their skinny jeans to shrink them, while talking about Simone de Beauvoir. In matching duffle coats and turtlenecks they walk on the pebbles at a wintry shore. "I think we should protest," says Ginger. "I think we should pray," says Rosa. They try out both with an accessory pink crucifix and a peace button.

At the New York Film Festival press conference, Potter pointed to the "grand passion" of these early friendships, that can reach "the scope, the dimensions of a Greek tragedy".

When Ginger comes home to her mother playing the accordion and singing The Man I Love, she knows her father might not be working or demonstrating. Although the most horrible heartbreak occurs, Potter manages to create an atmosphere of all but ethereal calm. Partly the soothing jazz, partly the warm coppery colors of the women's hair, even the peeling walls that reveal some blue paint under the amber - all work together to pull you deep into Ginger's tale. Fanning's sincere face in happiness and disbelief is the essence of the film.

Her mother cooks for the family, the father's favourite pie is on the table: "You want to shame me again with this display?" he asks, unable, or rather unwilling, to see how much he hurts everyone in his righteous path. When Rosa tells Ginger that she wants to write her father a letter, because she "understands him" things begin to escalate.

JFK is on the radio, the Cuban missile crisis is in full swing, and a young girl starts to wear eyeliner and cut bangs to betray what she never thought possible.

Reviewed on: 09 Oct 2012
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Two teenage girls living in 1960s London are driven apart by a scandalous betrayal.
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Director: Sally Potter

Writer: Sally Potter

Starring: Christina Hendricks, Elle Fanning, Annette Bening, Alessandro Nivola, Jodhi May, Alice Englert, Oliver Milburn, Greg Bennett, Andrew Hawley.

Year: 2012

Runtime: 90 minutes

BBFC: 12 - Age Restricted

Country: UK, Denmark, Canada, Croatia

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