The AFI Film festival’s “Tribute to Annette Bening” revolved around the gala premiere of “20th Century Woman” at Mann’s Chinese Theater on Wednesday, November 16th.
Prior to the film, Annette Bening came onstage and briefly chatted about her life. Annette revealed that it was her high school teachers’ introduction to theater (especially anything written by Shakespeare), and live Broadway shows that inspired her to become an actress. Annette Bening who is an extremely talented actress, also discussed the omportance of having a balanced life with her devoted husband and loving children.
Cleverly directed by Mike Mills, best known for his independent films “Thumbsucker” (2005) and “Beginners” (2010), has an amazing cast feauturing Annette Bening, Elle Fanning, Greta Gerwig, Billy Crudup, Lucas Jade Zumann, Alison Elliot, Thea Gill and Vitaly A Lebeau.
Set in Santa Barbara during the summer of 1979, Annette Bening is Dorothea, a single mom in her 50s trying to raise her teenage son Jaime (Lucas Jade Zumann) while managing a small boardinghouse. Simultaneously, Dorothea solicits the help of her young tenants “Abbie” ( Greta Gerwig), a red-headed free spirited, punk photographer, William(Billy Crudup), a sexy, cool handyman, and Julie (Elle Fanning) her son’s best female friend (who he has a major crush on), to keep an eye on things and help raise her son.
It is apparent that Dorothea feels she is losing contact and closeness with her son, and often seems less sophisticated and intuitive than her young boarders, who seem to have a more mature grasp of life. One of my favorite quotes of the movie is when Abbie tells Jaime, “Whatever you think your life is going to be, it’s not going to be anything like that.”
“20th Century Woman “ is a “coming of age narrative” with great acting , but some of the backstories of the characters lives only add confusion and dilute the cohesiveness of the story. Through their group effort, Jamie is going to be a fine man with good values and a healthy respect of women. Despite the dysfunctional personalities of the actors, I found the film amusing and charming!