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Ginger and Rosa

Directed by Sally Potter

UK, 2012

Cornerhouse, 20 October 2012

Ginger and Rosa

Perhaps surprisingly, there is a crucial connection between this film and On the Road, in that both are about a friendship that goes tragically awry.

It’s the late ‘50s through the early ‘60s and Ginger and Rosa, two teenage girls who have grown up together, are inseparable companions.  And together they experiment with cigarettes and hitchhiking and discover boys and political protest.  They march together to ban the bomb.

Then there’s an act of betrayal by one girl, and another person too, and it wrecks devastation.  A girl’s world is made desolate, not by an atomic bomb but by something else, something much closer to home.

The film is impressive on several fronts.  Potter’s writing and direction, for she did both, is intelligent, economical and briskly paced.  Interiors have a luminous dinginess, such as you associate with British films of the period; recall all those kitchen-sink dramas.  Let’s be clear, also, that any film with both Timothy Spall and Annette Bening in it has to be a bit of alright.  Then we come to Elle Fanning’s performance (she plays Ginger), and she’s outstanding, excellent in extremis.  At one point, when she’s sat down at dinner with her father and erstwhile best friend, it is almost unbearable to look upon her face.  You feel that Mary’s face when looking on her crucified son couldn’t have shown so much pain and anguish.

A great film.

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