20th Century Women Blu-ray Review
“20th Century Women” lacks an emotional punch.
Set in Santa Barbara in 1979, “20th Century Women” revolves around a free spirited single mother (Dorothea) who runs a boarding house that is occupied by her son Jamie, a carpenter (William) and a photographer (Abbie). The movie lacks a primary story and is instead made up of numerous subplots involving Jamie having a crush on his best friend Julie (who is always over at Dorothea’s house), Dorothea asking Abbie and Julie to help raise Jamie, sex, Abbie having possible cancer, Julie having a pregnancy scare, Dorothea feeling disconnected by the modern world, characters trying to figure out what they want out of life, Dorothea wanting to connect to her son more, drama amongst the 5 characters, and music.
What could have been a poignant story about strong women is let down by some poor creative choices across the board. Writer/director Mike Mills’ previous two films “Beginners” and “Thumbsucker” were both memorable indie films, but with “20th Century Women,” he seems to be trying to channel Wes Anderson as the movie contains distracting quirky and sometimes surreal moments. The weird, quick time jump editing by Leslie Jones doesn’t help matters either. Essentially you always feel like you are watching a movie here.
From a writing perspective, Mills’ script seems to collapse under the weight of its own ambitions. The film has a lot to say about culture, family, gender, age, and self-discovery, but the meandering story makes it hard to care for anything happening on screen. This goes for the characters too as the character dynamics should be far more emotional than they are.
It’s a real shame there’s such a disconnect with this film as there is some great performances on display here by the always reliable Annette Bening, Elle Fanning, Greta Gerwig and Billy Crudup. Their screen presence is the only thing making this movie remotely watchable.
Presentation: 2.40:1 1080p. How does it look? A sharp transfer that really shines during the exterior scenes.
Audio Track: 5.1 DTS-HD MA. How does it sound? The dialogue and music sound lively in this 5.1 track.
* Digital copy.
* Lionsgate trailers.
* “20th Century Cast”- An 11 minute featurette about the characters and cast members. Interviews are included.
* “Making 20th Century Women”. A standard making of that contains film clips, interviews, behind-the scenes footage, character and story discussions, etc.
* A very technical solo commentary by Mike Mills that is intended for filmmakers. Pretty insightful.
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