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Watch Ginger & Rosa

Maddie Daly | Monday, April 22, 2013


This past week, with the weather changing drastically on a daily basis, I was in the mood to do nothing but lie in bed and watch dramatic movies, and that’s exactly what I did. I randomly stumbled upon the 2012 British film “Ginger and Rosa” and decided to give it a try. Set in 1962 in London amid the Cuban Missile Crisis, the film focuses on two young girls and the impact world politics had on them. The main character Ginger is played by Dakota Fanning’s little sister Elle, who nails her role as conflicted and borderline-depressed teen.

The beginning of the film shows the relationship between Ginger and her best friend Rosa, played by “Beautiful Creatures” actress Alice Englert, who have been friends literally since birth after their mothers met in a London maternity ward. Ginger’s mom is played by “Mad Men” actress Christina Hendricks, an appropriate choice for the mom of a redheaded girl nicknamed Ginger. (We find out later that her real name is “Africa,” a name chosen by her radical father who was merely a teenager when she was born.) The 17-year-old girls are shown hitchhiking, smoking, chasing boys and drinking in bars together, with the matured Rosa leading her naïve and innocent friend. Ginger’s parents scold her for hanging out with such a bad influence, but that only makes her more rebellious and eager to go against their wishes. However, soon their friendship takes a turn for the worse after an inappropriate relationship forms between Rosa and Roland, Ginger’s father.

During the first hour of the film, careful watchers could predict the upcoming scandal because of the subtle yet strange looks exchanged between Rosa and Roland. For example, when Roland is driving Rosa and Ginger around in his convertible, he adjusts the rearview mirror to show him only Rosa’s face. This relationship throws Ginger completely over the edge and begins her downward spiral into complete depression.  

Not only does Ginger have to face that her best friend has a relationship with her own father, but she also has to deal with her extremely unhealthy relationship with her mother. Although not yet divorced, Natalie and Roland are separated and live in two different apartments. The film depicts the negative relationship between Ginger and her mother while hinting at the depreciating relationship between her and her father.   During a shouting match a few months into Rosa and Roland’s relationship, Ginger tearfully proclaims the situation in front of everyone, bringing Natalie to hysterics and leaving Rosa and Roland behind to take the blow. Natalie’s reaction throws the family even further off balance and is juxtaposed with the politics of the heightened threat of nuclear war. I was constantly engaged in the plot since it was all so fast-paced and intense, with both family and political drama happening simultaneously.   

I’m warning you now, this film does not have a happy ending, but I still enjoyed it. The backdrop of the Cold War and the threat of nuclear Armageddon connects well with Ginger’s unstable mental health and shows a different side of a well-known story. The talent among the actors makes for a deep, meaningful film that I would recommend to anyone looking for a good drama.