This is a very disturbing story about the cataclysmic events a teenage girl will undergo in the space of a short time. It is the 60’s when the U.S. and the Soviet Union are having a standoff about nuclear war. Unfortunately, Ginger (Elle Fanning) is about to have another part of her existence completely torn away. One potential threat is a metaphor for the other.
Ginger (Elle Fanning) and Rosa (Alice Englert) grow up together, and in their teens become very close, sharing everything. Ginger’s mother Natalie (Christina Hendricks) does not think Rosa—who is more “worldly”—is an especially good influence, but without the support of her husband Roland (Alessandro Nivola), lets it go. Roland does not really support her in this, or in much of anything. He is a professor, and talks and writes about the freedom of the individual and the responsibility to live by one’s own code of conduct. So he encourages Ginger and Rosa to LIVE, and to live by whatever set of morals they have developed.
Ginger is a serious young woman with aspirations of being a poet. She keeps up on current affairs in the world, reads, and thinks. Rosa is not inclined in that direction, but believes that everything is in God’s hands, so it is best not to try to alter life events. She feels her responsibility is in being there for the one she has chosen. These two philosophies of life will come to a head-on collision eventually that will separate the two friends.
Sally Potter, the writer/director seems to be making a point about different philosophies of life, and how they can profoundly affect the individual. Similarly, global events can have an impact. In this case, not only do these two forces come together, they coincide with major events in Ginger’s personal life, and her pain in going through it is palpable. We get the impression she will be OK. In this respect, the film is brilliant. What is lacking is a picture of the outcome in terms of Ginger. What kind of person does she turn out to be? I would like to think that these were character-building experiences, because she is so thoughtful, and that she becomes more grounded in herself and her place in the world; whereas presumably Rosa is already in for trouble because of the absence of these experiences and qualities. Grade: B