With 20TH CENTURY WOMEN, acclaimed filmmaker Mike Mills (the Academy Award®-winning BEGINNERS) brings us a richly multilayered, funny, heart-stirring celebration of the complexities of women, family, time and the connections we search for our whole lives.
It is a film that keeps redefining itself as it goes along, shifting with its characters as they navigate the pivotal summer of 1979. Set in Santa Barbara, the film follows Dorothea Fields (Annette Bening), a determined single mother in her mid-50s who is raising her adolescent son, Jamie (newcomer Lucas Jade Zumann, in a breakout performance) at a moment brimming with cultural change and rebellion. Dorothea enlists the help of two younger women in Jamie’s upbringing – via Abbie (Greta Gerwig), a free-spirited punk artist living as a boarder in the Fields’ home, and Julie (Elle Fanning), a savvy and provocative teenage neighbor.
Mills expertly recreates the warmth and passion of a great memory – but also the urgency and energy of three generations in the throes of momentous transition. Bening gives one of her very best performances as Dorothea, conveying with subtle yet tremendous emotional power both her unconditional love for her son and her increasing bewilderment about the world she is watching him enter. Gerwig, Fanning and Billy Crudup all do outstanding work, creating complex, unique characters who each contribute in crucial ways to Jamie’s upbringing. 20TH CENTURY WOMEN is a poignant love letter to the people who raise us – and the times that form us – as this makeshift family forges fragile connections that will mystify, haunt and inspire them through their lives.