The hair and sunny palm trees make 1970s California instantly recognizable, so when 20th Century Women specifies its locale at the beginning of the trailer, you should know that it’s a crucial piece of information. Santa Barbara, 1979 is presented as an idyll on the cusp, its orderly layout stretching to the edge of the sea and the new decade. As Annette Bening’s narration takes over, it becomes clear that the people inside the city are aware of the looming changes and are struggling to cope.
Writer/director Mike Mills seems fascinated with periods of flux, particularly the instances that have affected his own parents. His previous film, Beginners, was based on his father’s late in life announcement that he was a gay man. 20th Century Women, on the other hand, is loosely based on Mill’s mother, although Bening was given plenty of room to form her own character.
The rest of the cast seems poised to represent different approaches to the shifting times, and while family will almost certainly be the heart and soul of this film, it will likely embrace a looser definitions of the word.
20th Century Women may feature looming change, but it will be faced by a group bound by loving support. What a delightful film it promises to be.
20th Century Women is directed by Mike Mills and stars Annette Bening, Elle Fanning, and Greta Gerwig. It will be released in the U.S. on December 25th, 2016 and in the U.K. on February 10th, 2017. For international release dates, click here.
Do you think 20th Century Women can carry Bening to an Oscar win à la Christopher Plummer in Beginners? Let us know in the comments!
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