Films hold so much power within them. If you put the right people in them, have the perfect setting and a story that grips the audience, then you are sure to have real magic unfolding before your very eyes. That is the feeling I look forward to embracing before watching any film. I must say it has been a long time since a film gave me such a sense of nostalgia for a place I have never been to, feel so connected to characters this way; not since ‘The Deathly Hallows’ part 1 and 2 of the Harry Potter franchise. It seems that indie films in particular seem to have the affect, and this one was special.
‘Ginger & Rosa’ is one of those rare gems that you find while looking for something new and interesting to watch. I am so glad that I stumbled across this film. While it was premiered in 2012, it has not lost its value, not one bit. The story puts us in the shoes of two girls, Ginger (Elle Fanning) and Rosa (Alice Englert), the setting is 1962 London, with the threat of a nuclear bomb dropping and eradicating entire countries. The two have been the best of friends since they were born, with the mothers giving birth side by side in the opening scene of the movie. Why, they even dress the same. The first half of the movie showcase the girls living their lives despite the threat that they all may in fact die tomorrow.
Ginger is beautiful red head with an enormous sense of justice and urgency and while Rosa, who also shares that quality at the start of film, is more of her polar opposite. She is portrayed as a free spirit, who does not do very well with authority or the rules that a normal 17 year old girl should live by. She does all of the things Ginger is afraid to do, like kissing strangers, smoking and other various acts of rebellion. But the two of them are thick as thieves. That is, until Ginger’s parents begin to have marital issues and separate. Ginger’s mother seems to think that Rosa is but influence, rubbing off on her sweet daughter. Whilst her father, Roland, raised her to question everything, stand up for what you believe in. Even if it lands you in prison. Being raised in that type of push and pull environment would be enough to drive any teenage girl mad, but she somehow manages to keep it all together.
After a boat ride with Rosa and her father, Ginger senses something is not right with her best friend. In fact, the one thing that could ever tear anyone away from ginger is the one thing that stands between Rosa and herself. There is much to feel in this film. So many lives to sort through and try to understand. I put myself in Ginger’s shoes the first time around, saw that world through her eyes, putting all of her faith and time into rallies and protests to fight the bomb. Thinking that any day, everyone I loved could be gone. Hiding my feelings behind that mask and becoming so consumed with grieve and pent up emotion, that I just burst like a bubble in the end. The second go around, I put myself in Rosa’s shoes. Saw what it was like to not grow up with a father, so I turn my eye to my best friends’ father, a man who is so interesting in the way that he sees the world, the way that he thinks, how his soul and mind work. I could see why she would be so infatuated with him, the idea of someone like him. But I also felt the struggle and inner turmoil within Rosa. Knowing that what I was doing was wrong, that I was walking down a dark and lonely path but just not being able to steer out of the dark. I connected with these characters on a level I have never been to before.
Elle Fanning and Alice Englert are two of my favorite actresses. I have seen Elle in everything she has played in and I think she is wonderful and has such a beautiful soul, a great gift for acting. Also the same with Alice, I just love the way she thinks and sees the world, how she speaks in interviews, everything. These two girls did such a wonderful job with these characters. As did the rest of the phenomenal cast. One other thing that really pulled me deeper into this 1960’s setting was the breathtaking landscapes and locations. There was a scene where Ginger and Rosa hitchhiked to the edge of the beach. The entire field was filled with rocks and sand and there at the very far edge was the ocean. The sky was a beautiful shade of grey and blue, mixed like pastel paints on a canvas and the two of them just sat in silence, hugging one another in the cold. I do not know how to explain such a feeling but it almost felt like nostalgia. But how? I have never been to a place as beautiful and that, with girls as beautiful and wonderful as them. Yet I yearned for it. That is when you know a film has done its job. When it affects you that deeply and makes you passionate about it.
Director Sally Porter really outdid herself as well as cinematographer Robbie Ryan. Everyone involved in this project gave an outstanding performance. I came away from the film with tears in my eyes because I missed these people, missed those places I had never been to. That has not happened since the final words in the credits rolled on screen for the Harry Potter franchise. I have seen more films than I can count but this one, it stands out from the rest. So I implore you, please go and watch this magnificent film for yourself. Perhaps it will touch you as deeply as it did for me, or maybe more.
‘Ginger & Rosa’ is available everywhere on DVD and Blu-ray, as well as digitally.