20th Century Women (2017, Mike Mills)
Could be described as a coming-of-age movie, but also as an ensemble movie or a nostalgic trip to memory lane. It’s set in the late Seventies, during the days of Punk, Women’s Lib and the Volkswagen Beetle.
A 15 year old boy (apparently the director’s alter ego) is raised by his single mum (Anette Bening), who thinks she can’t handle the job on her own. There’s a man about the house, a tenant who works as a handyman, but the boy and the guy don’t connect; mum therefore asks the help of two others, both women, another tenant, a photographer and a hardcore feminist and the girl next door, who sleeps with the boy, not to have sex with him, but to use him as a sounding board (!).
With a running-time of two hours, this pleasant, intimate movie overstays its welcome a little, but it’s nice to encounter a movie that is totally free of CGI, car chases and other noisy stuff. 20th Century Women is well-directed and flawlessly acted; it also looks great, with a nice recreation of the period, but in spite of all this, there seems to be something missing. Writer-director Mills obviously watched a lot of Mike Nichols and a lot of Woody Allen but he’s a better director than a writer and the drama works much better than the comedy (even though there’s at least one hilarious joke about female orgasms). 7/10