Imagine: The world as you know it is about to end…or so young Ginger thinks in the 2013 coming-of-age indie movie Ginger & Rosa, directed by Sally Potter, which stars Elle Fanning (Ginger) and Alice Englert (Rosa).
Anti-Cold War campaigns in London begin to clash with the sexual revolution of the 1960s. Everyone is embracing their sexuality, all while protesting nuclear weapons. This crazy movement captures the attention of two best friends, Ginger and Rosa. Inseparable, the girls cut school regularly and enjoy talking about life. The two girls’ surprisingly in-depth discussions of politics, religion, and love showcase their deep understanding and perspective on the world. Their society is literally breaking apart and they only have each other to lean on. Both girls despise their mothers’ lack of liveliness, which is subdued by boring domesticity. Ginger’s mother, Natalie, is a stay-at-home mother and once an aspiring artist. Her father, who prefers the name Roland to “Dad”, is a scandalous teacher with a history of having affairs with his young female pupils. These infidelities cause an obvious strain in Ginger’s family. On the other hand, Rosa’s father left her mother with a slew of children and barely any money. As a result, Rosa is burdened with the task of being a babysitter for her siblings, while her mother cleans houses. She begins to feel lonely and seeks affection. Her search for love and romance eventually lead her to Roland (aka Ginger’s father). The pair truly believe that they are made for each other. Roland enjoys Rosa’s youthfulness and intelligence. Rosa admires Roland’s stability in life and finds a father figure in the midst of his affection. The affair shatters the life of all those involved and their families. Ginger, who is is wise beyond her years, is ultimately broken and not only feels the pain of her father’s sickening affair, but also the looming nuclear war in the distance.
Director Sally Potter builds on the already fragile heart of Ginger, and creates a wonderful tale of turning hopelessness into genuine hope and strength. Her clever portrayal of two best friends who are almost polar opposites, except for their shared relation to tired and boring mother’s, elevates this film into a true work of heart. Potter delves into the mind of wistful and lost teenage souls that have no compass during a time of great fear and pain.
The time setting, which is London during 1962, the highlight of the Cold War, greatly adds to the heavy story told through the eyes of the impressionable Ginger and her lost friend, Rosa. Both girls fear the possible spread of nuclear war, but they handle it in different ways. Ginger attends rallies and protests in an effort to find and serve a greater purpose than herself. Rosa is more pessimistic and seeks romance rather than direct participation in the anti-war effort. The emotions that fill both girls are beautifully narrated by subtle jazz arrangements that make up the film’s score. Smooth jazz is paired with choppy, and sharp arrangements to create a “perfect storm” of highs and lows that mirror the rise and fall of the movie’s daunting plot.
Ginger and Rosa shows audiences a stark reflection of life without meaning or stability. Two girls’ lives are turned upside down during a time of war and heightened sexuality. Ginger pursues a path towards meaning, while Rosa chooses the dangerous path of conflicted love and affection. Sally Potter’s hit indie film will capture the heart of all viewers and live you wishing for more and wanting the best outcome for all characters.
So imagine that the world was “ending”: what would you do? Will you seek substance or love?
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