20th Century Women

20th Century Women ★★★★

My first hello with Mike Mills was quite uneventful in Beginners, yet I always thought that his singular, unconventional perspective was worthy of a much closer look. That went perfectly in this snapshot of a drama in 20th Century Women. Mills pays a beautiful homage to the coming-of-age, motherhood and womanhood in such effortless, graceful way. The film follows a single mother seeking the help of two other women to help her raise her adolescent son. The structure is disjointed, and somehow elusive in terms of emotional quality nonetheless, 20th Century Women proves to be a more revelatory, evocative work from Mike Mills.

The real power of 20th Century Women comes from Mills’ resplendent writing that even if it did not translate cohesively as a whole picture, the bits and pieces of the characters’ lives are completely rooted in reality with such emotive, intellectual insight. Somehow, Mills make a statement throughout that maybe it’s alright to have this kind of disjointed POVs from his characters as they are completely fleshed-out without them saying something or having a conflict to know who they are. Rather it’s a perfectly-scaled snapshot of the mundane and the human beings circling around it.

A steadfast, radiant Annette Bening headlines the cast, and though I haven’t seen a lot of Bening films, this is her best as it is it feels uninhibited, lived in performance—in short, liberating. Greta Gerwig is mesmerizing as well as the free-spirited punk tenant who put another dimension to the word ‘menstruation’ which is quite sensational. While Elle Fanning, Billy Crudup, and newcomer Lucas Zumann all gave indelible turns as well. Overall, 20th Century Women is a personable, touching portrait of human beings as human beings. This second time around, I’m truly in awe of you Mr. Mills.

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