NYFF: Elle Fanning excels in ‘Ginger and Rosa’!

Greetings from the New York Film Festival once again my friends. We of course spent yesterday eagerly awaiting the Secret Screening, but before then I saw and subsequently wanted to highlight the other film that screened earlier in the day. It was the English drama ‘Ginger & Rosa’, a fine new film from Sally Potter made even better by Elle Fanning’s lead performance. Could Fanning shake up the shaky Best Actress race? I have my doubts, but she’s a contender worth taking note of. Obviously all eyes were on ‘Lincoln’ at NYFF, but Clayton already covered that and I’ll be getting to that later. Be sure to follow Clayton and myself on Facebook and/or Twitter to get the latest on the big debut, but in the meantime, let’s move forward and talk a bit about Potter’s flick…

Ginger & Rosa (***)

Buoyed by an excellent turn by Elle Fanning, Sally Potter’s ‘Ginger & Rosa’ is an intriguing coming of age story that makes up for its standard plot with a good feel for time and all around acclaim worthy acting. It’s a bit slowly paced for an 89 minute movie to really leave you feeling blown away or anything, but it’s overall a high quality feature. Fanning is the best part, but the likes of Alessandro Nivola, Christina Hendricks, newcomer Alice Englert, and Annette Bening in a small supporting role all do solid work too.

The film is set in England during the early 60’s and deals with the deep friendship between Ginger (Fanning) and Rosa (Englert). Their mothers formed a bond while giving birth, so the two have been close for literally their entire lives. With nuclear war a constant threat and a burgeoning womanhood taking hold of both girls, they each deal with it in very different ways. They both become interested in anti-bomb activism, but Ginger is far deeper into it and also interested in poetry. Rosa on the other hand looks to boys and prayer for support, including taking a liking to Ginger’s dad Roland (Nivola). Roland his Natalie (Hendricks) are in a rough spot, and that only serves to make further issues for Ginger, leading her to form a bond with the gay couple nearby (Timothy Spall and Oliver Platt). When certain events conspire to change everyone’s lives, how will Ginger react?

Elle Fanning is very good in one of the title roles, with the entire film focused on her. She handles it with aplomb and really impresses. I may have slightly preferred her in ‘Somewhere’, but this is top notch work as well. Alice Englert is rather new on the scene and leaves a good impression as well playing the more “normal” teen Rosa to Ginger’s more artsy teen. Their chemistry together is excellent too and a real highlight. Alessandro Nivola is his reliable self, while Christina Hendricks makes the case that she should be in more movies as soon as possible. As for Annette Bening, she’s not in it that much but she manages to do as good as anyone else.

Aside from Sally Potter’s languid pacing at times and a story that doesn’t tread much new ground, there’s a lot to like about ‘Ginger and Rosa’. It opens later this year for an Oscar qualifying run and I’ll be reviewing it in full then, but for now consider it a possible awards contender for Elle Fanning. She’s not the most likely nominee, but she’s perhaps in play more than we realize!

Stay tuned for the rest of the big news from the New York Film Festival, as well as a few more reports this week, right up until the festival closes on Sunday with the world premiere of ‘Flight’. We’ll be back with more all week…

Thoughts? Discuss in the comments!