Sunday, January 15, 2017

20th Century Women

A single parent raising a family faces many challenges. After my grandfather died in a horrible industrial accident, my grandmother was left with two sons and two daughters to bring up on her own. I continue to admire how she managed to do this. And that probably has a lot to do with my strong feelings about 20th Century Women. This movie takes place in Southern California during the late 1970s. It focuses on a single mom who asks for help from two other women because she worries about her own communication with her teenage son. Besides dealing with the mother/son relationship, the film also shows these very different women exploring issues of love and freedom.   

The movie is a wonderful character-driven offering with first-rate acting by a very strong cast. Annette Bening brings her drama/comedy “A game” to the lead role, and she’s ably supported by Lucas Jade Zumann, Elle Fanning, Greta Gerwig, and Billy Crudup.

Written and directed by Mike Mills, this motion picture demonstrates how skillful writing and outstanding performances can transform a simple bittersweet story into something very special indeed.           

A single mom and her young son
are very close. But he’s not done
with growing up, so here’s mom’s plan.
She will get some help, if she can.

A father figure might be great.
Still, that thought seems way, way too late.
Two younger gals try in their style –
spending time with the son a while.

But will this work and help the boy?
Could they share too much or be coy?
Annette Bening is at her best
as mother hen in this snug nest.

The younger women are portrayed
by actresses who don’t evade
reaching down deep to make us feel
their characters are really real.

Elle Fanning and Greta Gerwig
earn kudos for doing this gig.
Lucas Jade Zumann as the son
gets a cheer for acting he’s done.

And Billy Crudup steals his scenes --
a handyman for stairs and things.
Helping out is an easy plot.
I like this movie quite a lot!

Men are what their mothers made them. --- Ralph Waldo Emerson

It’s not our job to toughen our children up to face the world. It’s our job to raise children who will make the world a little less cruel and heartless. --- K.R. Knost

Happy is the son whose faith in his mother remains unchallenged. --- Louisa May Alcott

(Released by A24 and rated “R” for sexual material, some nudity and brief drug use.)


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