Director Mike Mills (Beginners) brilliantly pulls back the curtain on the struggles, tragedies and triumphs of three generations of American women living in 1979 Santa Barbara.
Annette Bening stars as Dorothea, a smart and resourceful woman in her 50s, raising her son (Lucas Jade Zumann) by herself for many years. Surrounding Dorothea's small family is Abbie (Greta Gerwig), a 20-something woman who has recently survived a cancer scare and returns to her hometown to reassess her direction in life; and Julie (Elle Fanning), a teenager navigating the burgeoning independence of her adolescence and the responsibility it brings.
An ace soundtrack – which includes Talking Heads and The Raincoats – drives the story and its specific time and place, while the film's impeccable production design draws the audience into the crumbling decay of its central location, so fully that viewers can almost smell the plaster. Throughout, Mike Mills expertly recreates the warmth and passion of a great memory – but also the urgency and energy of three generations in the throes of momentous transition.
“Love and loss go hand in hand in 20th Century Women, a funny, emotionally piercing story about a teenager and the women who raise him.”
- Manohla Dargis, NEW YORK TIMES