20th Century Women

2cw_finalDir. Mike Mills. Cast: Annette Bening, Elle Fanning, Greta Gerwig, Lucas Jade Zumann, Billy Crudup.

119 mins, 2017, USA

Annette Bening plays Dorothea, the single mother of a 15-year-old boy, worried about how to bring him up to be a decent man, and looking to others for help, in this 1970s-set sweet and funny film about women, men and sexuality.

There’s a brilliant dinner party scene when one of Dorothea’s lodgers, punk photographer Abbie (Greta Gerwig) gets everyone around the table, women and men, to say out loud, while looking her in the eyes, the word ‘menstruation’. It’s very funny, and then the scene turns to sadness when 17-year-old Julia (Elle Fanning) describes her first sexual experience at the age of 14. Although it’s set in the 1970s it seems sort of truthful about the difficulties facing girls and boys growing up today – and the difficulties that mothers face.