Director/Writer Mike Mills (Beginners 2010) has made an inventive, insightful and sometimes funny film set in the 1970s in Southern California.
It is his third feature film and the second about parent/child relationships based on his own life and relationship with his single parent mother and two older sisters. It has been nominated for several awards including Best Original Screenplay at the 89th Academy Awards and best Actress for Annette Bening.
The film is mostly a portrait of Dorothea Fields (Annette Bening) who gives a fine performance as a single mother in her mid-fifties whose values come from her own childhood.
She was raised in the Depression years and is conflicted by attitudes that are rapidly changing – and her perceived inability to connect with Jamie (Lucas Jade Zumann) her sensitive and sometimes worldly 15 year old son. She is free-spirited, witty, independent and a bit eccentric.
Her ambition had been to be a pilot but circumstances turned her to being a draughtswoman letting rooms in her home to 24 year old Abbie (Greta Gerwig), a rather punk photographer and Billy Crudup (William Tennant) a well-meaning ex-hippie carpenter/mechanic/potter.
Realising that Jamie will never be comfortable in sharing his thoughts with her she enlists the help of two younger girls who have grown up in an age not like her own to help him grow into a man.
Abbie gives him feminist books to read, takes him to a night club, gets him his first kiss and offers the advice that “Whatever you think your life is going to be like, just know that it’s not gonna be anything like that”.
And Julie, (Elle Fanniing) who teaches him to be cool. She is a promiscuous school friend who is a couple of years older and tells him about her sexual adventures. Sometimes she climbs in a window to sleep in the same bed with him but in spite of the fact that he is in love with her there is no sexual contact. She says this would spoil their relationship.
There are frequent flash backs and ahead into the future, and lots of quotable lines. All the actors give excellent performances in this complex study of a single mother and the challenges of parenthood in a changing society.
Now showing at Luna, Leederville, and Luna SX, Fremantle.
Watch the trailer…