Sunday 18 February 2018

Nuclear family drama loses spice

Paul Whitington

Ginger & Rosa

(15A, limited release, 90 minutes)

Director: Sally Potter Stars: Elle Fanning, Christina Hendricks, Annette Bening, Timothy Spall


The shadow of the Cuban Missile Crisis and imminent nuclear conflagration hang heavily over Sally Potter's rather clumsy and stilted domestic drama set in London in the early 1960s.

The film does boast some decent performances, not least from 14-year-old Elle Fanning, who plays a teenager whose dysfunction has an obvious source.

Ginger (Fanning) lives with her fussing, semi-hysterical mother, Natalie (Christina Hendricks) and her self-absorbed popinjay of a father, Roland (Alessandro Nivola), and her parents' unhappiness has infected the young girl's psyche.

Ginger finds solace in the company of her best friend Rosa (Alice Englert) and their growing involvement in the campaign for nuclear disarmament.

She also craves her father's attention and approval, but when he becomes romantically interested in Rosa, a girl at least 20 years his junior, Ginger is overwhelmed by a kind of perfect psychological storm.

Though it evokes its period reasonably well and establishes its premise efficiently, Potter's drama is plagued by clunky dialogue and a meandering pace.

Interesting supporting turns from actors as distinguished as Annette Bening, Oliver Platt and Timothy Spall are essentially thrown away by a script that fails to sustain its lofty ambitions.

There are some nice touches of comedy, and the film has some interesting points about how people use noble causes to pursue their own venal aims.

But overall Ginger & Rosa is a most unconvincing drama.

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