Thumbsucker and Beginners filmmaker Mike Mills continues his acclaimed if unassuming career with a female-centered dramedy that will be best remembered for offering Annette Bening her best role in nearly a decade. Bening sets herself far apart from her amply talented costars Greta Gerwig (I still wonder why she is not a bigger star) and Elle Fanning as Dorothea Fields, a divorced woman raising her son, Jamie (Lucas Jade Zumann), in late-’70s Southern California with the help of a twentysomething punk artist (Gerwig) and her son’s beautiful best friend (Fanning).
Mills’ film piles on the affecting moments—Gerwig’s Abbie is a cancer survivor—and gentle laughs, generated mostly from Bening’s razor-sharp delivery. (Dorothea also humorously invites everyone she meets to dinner.) 20th Century Women feels like a politically and socially relevant way to ring in 2017 after the political debacle that ended 2016.
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