I really enjoyed this although to say the film received ‘mixed’ reviews underplays somewhat the hostility. Some of the criticism surrounded the casting, 13 year old Elle Fanning as 17 year old Ginger, for instance; and Christina Hendricks as her mum. Well, for whatever reason, the arguably naff casting didn’t bother me. I thought Fanning, in particular, was great though it probably helped that I didn’t know she was actually 13.
It’s a starry cast for an arty movie, though this isn’t Potter at her obtuse, but I didn’t find the ‘stars’, Annette Bening, Oliver Platt and Timothy Spall, distracting at all. So what put others off didn’t bother me, which no doubt helped me to concentrate on Potter’s fantastic direction. Her eye for a composition, aided by Andrea Arnold’s regular collaborator Robbie Ryan, is brilliant and came over very well on the blu-ray disc.
As to the narrative, a ‘coming of age’ during the height of the Cold War in 1963 story, I found it thoroughly convincing. The dialectic of personal-political might be more tense in the young (the politicised young that is) than us oldies as they are not yet sure who they are and their politics tend to be very personal rather than ideological. Potter throws in Roland, a typical male for whom his idealism is synonymous with his masculinity, superbly played by Alessandro Nivola; his egotism enraged me so much that I actually shouted at the telly. However, as Potter points out, it is difficult to disagree with him.