20th Century Women (2016)

20th Century Women is another of those movies I added on my watchlist and pretty much forgot about it. Some days ago it was mentioned on Twitter multiple times as one of the best coming-of-age of this decade so I took advantage of Girl Week to watch it.

Set at the end of the 1970's in Santa Monica, the story mainly focuses Dorothea (Anne Bening), a middle-aged progressive divorcée who is raising her teenage son Jamie (Lucas Jade Zumann). She is concerned that she may be too old and out of touch with the modern world to raise him adequately so she asks for the help of two women, Abbie (Greta Gerwig), a photographer who rented one of Dorothea's rooms, and Julie (Elle Fanning), Jamie's best friend.

There isn't more to the story than that, absolutely no plot to drive the objectively slow-paced film. And yet that's not a problem because, as every coming-of-age should be, the real focus of the film is the characters. 

Mike Mills (director and writer) provides us with five very strong, characterized and developed characters. Each of those characters has their own backstory and what I really liked about it is the way they were delivered: through a series of flashbacks and narrated in voiceovers by one of the other characters. This style of narration along with the lack of an actual plot is what allows the film to follow each character and to show what happens in their lives.

Each character has their problems. Dorothea suffers from the lack of a man in her life; Jamie is in love with his best friend Julie, but he isn't reciprocated; Julie is scared she got pregnant with the teenager who only used her for sex; Abbie is dealing with cervical cancer; William (Billy Crudup), a handyman/ageing hippie living in Dorothea's house, is unable to have a serious relationship with women. None of them is perfect, they all have their flaws, but Mills's work is so impressive, it comes naturally to love them.

Dorothea, Abbie and Julie are arguably the most interesting and strong characters though. They are three women of different age groups - one in her 50s, one in her 30s, one still a teenager - trying to raise a teenage boy and trying to teach him a little more about life. They have a different vision of life and a different relationship with Jamie, but they know what they are doing. 

Also knowing what they are doing is the wonderful cast. Anne Bening, Greta Grewin (who delivers the most memorable scene in the film), Elle Fanning, Lucas Jade Zumann and Billy Crudup are all delightful. Bening, however, steals the show as the Dorothea. Her portrayal of the single mother is wonderful and it's impossible to take the eyes off the screen when she's on it. 


  1. I really liked this film, I'm glad I got to see it in theaters last year because it didn't get the greatest release. Happy you liked it too!

  2. I still haven't seen this one. It's on my list, though.