In no particular order, here are all the things that Mike Mills’ third directorial feature, 20th Century Women, will make you do: nonchalantly dab your eyes with a tissue, develop a deep affinity for life in Santa Barbara in 1979, and fall in love with every inch of Annette Bening’s glorious face. Yes, Mills’ follow-up to 2011’s Beginners is that good.
Led by a brilliant cast of Bening, Elle Fanning, Greta Gerwig, Billy Crudup, and newcomer Lucas Jade Zumann, 20th Century Women tells the story of 50-something-year-old Dorothea (Bening) trying to decipher how to best help her teenage son (Zumann) grow into a good, just, young man in a time when everything is somewhat in flux: there’s an energy crisis, Jimmy Carter is desperately trying to unite a society that’s fumbling in the space between one era and the next, and local teenagers entertain themselves by playing choking games. Terrified that she alone cannot give her son everything he needs–and feeling more distant from him with every new record he spins in his room, and every minute in which he becomes a slightly older version of himself–Dorothea enlists the help of a few lost souls that rent rooms in her enormous, constantly in-repair home in sunny Santa Barbara. (more…)