20th Century Women dissects the lives of a struggling mother and a confused teenage boy and then pieces them back together with the new, spunky people that enter into their lives. Raised in the Great Depression, the mother, Dorothea (Annette Benning), cannot understand why her son, Jamie (Lucas Jade Zumann), desires to be free and rebel against the societal norms of the 1970s. As the two grow apart, they find peace in learning about themselves through the residents renting out rooms in their home. Abbie (Greta Gerwig), a 20-something punk rocker who recently beat cervical cancer, shows Jamie the ways of feminism, rebellious music and finding happiness in freedom. Meanwhile, Dorothea is seeking ways to become closer with Jamie through his friends and the guidance of William (Billy Crudup), a settled down hippie who shows her it is OK to take a breather every now and then.
Reasons to see 20th Century Women
20th Century Women has a wave of feelings and lessons to be broadcasted to the audience that makes it a great watch. Music is such an important part of the emotional effects of movies, and the artists behind this movie definitely understood that. All of the music in 20th Century Women was very personal to the characters, scenes and era of the film. From punk rock with Abbie, to classical with Dorothea, the audience will always have a new genre to look up when they get home.
20th Century Women left a footprint on the mind, too. Leaving the theater, viewers can’t help but think about their lives and the people who got them there. It leaves the audience pondering on the whos and whys of their day-to-day lives, and because of that, makes them look at the day a little bit brighter.
Perhaps the most captivating aspect of 20th Century Women is the ever-changing point of view. At the start, we hear the mother’s story of her son, and from there, more characters appear and we are more invested in them. We learn their pasts and presents in a very intimate way most movies would skip over. By the end credits, the audience knows every little detail about every little character, down to who they married and when they will die. The movie doesn’t only deliver one story, but several very moving ones.
Reasons to skip 20th Century Women
Although 20th Century Women tells an amazingly relatable tale of family and self-discovery, there is not much else. As the film goes on, nothing very suspenseful happens. There is no climax. The day-to-day story is only interesting for so long, and this film could have used a bigger “WOW” moment.
Following that same theme, it was lengthy. Totaling just two minutes short of two hours, the film makes the audience get a little antsy when their theater seats are no longer comfortable. This isn’t Titanic, and going into the theater thinking it would be a shorter film is a big mistake.
For those who do not know all of the presidents and the development of rock ‘n’ roll already, this movie may have posed some hurdles. 20th Century Women has plenty of references to the history of the time. It does a great job of creating cultural references, but for those of us who do not know the late’70s like the back of our hand, this offers up some food for thought. Luckily, millennials can always go to their parents for any pop culture references they may miss.
The effort to create a movie where all ages could relate to someone either through music, struggle or humor is very successful in 20th Century Women. The audience will leave the theater wanting to call their mothers and say “thank you,” and then continue a life full of excitement. However, watching this film might require a brush up on 1970s pop culture.
Overall Rating: 4.5/5
20th Century Women is currently playing at the Athena Cinema on Court Street with daily showings at 4:45 p.m., 7:25 p.m. and 9:40 p.m. and Saturday/Sunday matinees are at 2:45 p.m.