1962: Samoa granted independence from New Zealand, John Glenn is the first American to orbit earth, Jackie Kennedy gives a televised tour of the White House, Pope John XXIII excommunicates Fidel Castro; “Escape from Alcatraz” a film starring Clint Eastwood based upon the U.S.-British nuclear test in Nevada; historically, the most monumental, colossal event: the Cuban Missile Crisis, the catastrophic threat of total annihilation. “Ginger” and “Rosa” at seventeen, living in London are political activists, shriveling in dysfunctional homes, born on the same day in 1945. A thought- provoking “coming of age” tale written and directed by Sally Potter; more powerful than the action, which at times is plodding, are the mulling, struggling formulas being conjured in their fertile, unsowed minds.
Elle Fanning is “Ginger”, blessed with a poetic soul, worshipped by her father, “Roland” (Nivola Allesandro) a handsome, politically- inflamed writer, charlatan, conscientious objector, with a luring, roving eye; Roland nurtures her budding activism and roiling antagonism against the bomb. Fanning does a stupendous interpretation of a girl tottering between childhood and the aches and issues of impending adulthood.
Alice Englert, a vague, idealistic, undefined “Rosa” exhibits the classic traits of a teenager lusting to break the bonds, taboos, restraints of parental guidance; looking for “Cyrano” she mistakes the romantic for reality; lacking the depth of Ginger her boundaries are blurred, selfish, predictable.
A barely recognizable Annette Bening, plays left-wing philosophical sage “Bella”, with Emma Goldman precision she fuels, impassions Ginger’s anarchism; resulting in a climatic, combustible dynamic.
Potter, an advocate of philosopher Bertrand Russell, who sagely stated that “the whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, and wise people so full of doubts”. In “Ginger and Rosa” both equations are indubitably represented.