"Ginger & Rosa" (2012 release from the UK; 90 min.) brings the story of two young women, Ginger (played by Elle Fanning) and Rosa (played by Alice Englert), growing up as 17 year olds in 1962. As the movie opens, we see the mushroom cloud of the atomic bomb which was just unleashed over Hiroshima, and indeed the nuclear threat hangs over the movie from start to finish. Ginger and Rosy are "BFFs" as it would be called these days, even though they are very different. Ginger is the romantic poet who will quote Simone de Beauvoire ("who?" asks Rosa), and when Ginger wants to protest against the nuclear bomb, Rosa retorts "we should pray". In the end, they do both, going to church and then going to an anti-nuke demonstration. Meanwhile, Ginger's parents are having their own domestic problems, Roland being the free-spirited professor who want to "break the rules, all the rules". Rosa certainly notices the troubles too as she starts to fancy Roland. At that point we are about half-way into the movie, and to tell you more of the plot would ruin your viewing experience. Will Rosa and Roland become an item? Will Ginger's mum and dad find a way to solve their marital issues? What will become of Ginger and Rosa's friendship "for life"? You'll just have to see for yourself how it all plays out.
Several comments: first and foremost, British writer-director Sally Potter does an outstanding job transporting us 50 years back in time, when indeed it was a different world. In that sense, this does not feel like a movie made in this day and age, but rather a late 60s or early 70s drama. Second, the use of the nuclear threat to advance the story line works surprisingly well (it includes the Cuban missile crisis, as experienced from afar in the UK). Third, the acting performances are ace throughout, although special kudos to Elli Fanning, featuring flaming red hair, who exudes a confidence and screen presence that belies her age (she is still only 15). Last but not least, kudos also for the excellent soundtrack, featuring music from those days. I literally hadn't heard The Shadows' "Apache" in ages (maybe even decades). There is also a number of jazz tracks from the likes of Thelonious Monk and Dave Brubeck.
The screening I saw this at the local art-house theatre here in Cincinnati was very well attended, I am happy to say, which gives me hope that there is an strong appetite and demand for this movie. Bottom line: this is a little gem of a movie, a tender yet at times intense coming-of-age saga and family drama. This is miles away from your standard Hollywood fare, but if you are in the mood for something small yet personal, you cannot go wrong with this. "Ginger & Rosa" is HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!