20th Century Women, the latest film from writer-director Mike Mills (Beginners, Thumbsucker), held its world premiere as the Centerpiece Selection at the ongoing New York Film Festival. And from the looks of it, the film may be a major critical favorite when all is said and done. The film, set in late 70s Santa Barbara, features an illustrious ensemble cast in Annette Bening, Greta Gerwig, Elle Fanning, Billy Crudup and newcomer Lucas Jade Zumann. A24 Films is releasing the film just in the nick of time for hopeful awards consideration on Christmas Day.
The slice of life comedy-drama features Bening (a three-time Oscar nominated actress, most recently for The Kids Are All Right) as Dorothea Fields, a single mother of an adolescent son (Zumann) who is attempting to guide him on the right track for life. A colorful collection of characters live on the periphery including a punk artist (Gerwig), Dorothea’s boarder, and a neighboring teen known for stirring provocation (Fanning). Mills previously wrote and directed the idiosyncratic 2011 indie Beginners, a story with an autobiographical touch for the filmmaker (likely, perhaps as 20th Century Women), that starred Ewan McGregor as a man coming to grips with the late-in-life coming out and eventual death of his father (Christopher Plummer, in an Oscar-winning role).
Beginners earned strong reviews, yet on the onset 20th Century Women may be stoking even more generous acclaim as first reactions have come about. Gregory Ellword wrote in The Playlist, that the film was “impressive and moving” while David Mooney, in his review for The Hollywood Reporter, wrote, “The sheer likability of these lived-in characters is a powerful magnet, thanks to insightful writing and a note-perfect ensemble anchored by a never-better Annette Bening.” Owen Gleiberman was less effusive in his Variety review, stating “20th Century Women is an endless chain of anecdotes, and though many individual moments are winning, the movie as a whole is rudderless. It never achieves an emotional power surge.” David Ehrlich, though, was particularly smitten writing in Indiewire, “Less twee and more textured than Beginners, this is the film that Mike Mills was put on this planet to make.”
— david ehrlich (@davidehrlich) October 8, 2016
20TH CENTURY WOMEN is just wonderful. My heart felt like it was going to burst. Annette Bening Forever. — Nathaniel Rogers (@nathanielr) October 7, 2016
I found 20TH CENTURY WOMEN to be utterly delightful, and while all perfs are stellar, I was especially taken with Gerwig’s work. #NYFF
— Kate Erbland (@katerbland) October 7, 2016
20TH CENTURY WOMEN is warm, knowing, and so, so generous to its characters. The movie loves them, and I love the movie. — Kyle Buchanan (@kylebuchanan) October 7, 2016
We can all judge for ourselves soon enough. 20th Century Women opens in limited engagements beginning on December 25th.