If Mike Mills’ 2011 film Beginners was a tribute to his late father, then 20th Century Women, though less tied up with autobiography, serves as a heartfelt acknowledgement of his mother’s guidance through the tumultuous adolescent period.
Dorothea Fields (Annette Bening) is a divorced mother, born into the Great Depression, navigating her way through the enormous cultural shifts of late ‘70s America. Her 15 year old son, Jamie (Lucas Jade Zumann) is experiencing changes of his own and, as he is becomes increasingly alien to her, she realises he needs more than just her input to become the moral individual she so desperately wishes him to be.
With the help of Abbie (Great Gerwig) and Julie (Elle Fanning) two offbeat women both relatively close to Jamie in age, Dorothea comes closer to understanding the youth of the day and the three of them work together to guide him through his clumsy transition into manhood.
“Mills authentically encapsulates the signpost features of an era, short shorts and VW beetles, where feminism had lost its militant edge but continued to change the world; appreciating nostalgia but not wallowing in it.” (Variety) (research Heather Graves) A coming of (all) age tale. Understated, warm and tender.