Potter is a highly original filmmaker who can be extremely great (her first feature was the brilliant Orlando) or pretty awful (her experimental Tango Lesson and Yes both self-destructed). With Ginger & Rosa, she is mostly great in getting to the heart of a simple, but potent story about teenage girlfriends, mothers and daughters, and fathers and daughters, and all the ways those delicate balances can be tipped, one way or another, during the perilous dance of growing up.
Ginger (the remarkable Elle Fanning) and Rosa (an affecting Alice Englert) have been best friends since their mothers gave birth to them at the same time in the same London hospital. They practice kissing and smoking together, shrink their jeans sitting in the same bathtub, make out with the occasional, anonymous boy, and do wild-girl things like hitchhike to the seaside for a day of illicit hanging out.
The unsupervised Rosa (her single mom cleans houses) is more advanced; aspiring poet Ginger gets more friction at home from her frustrated, stay-at-home mom, Natalie (Christina Hendricks), and her professor dad, Roland (Alessandro Nivola).
Invoking the Cuban Missile Crisis as a metaphor for the end of the world fits nicely into Potter's storytelling scheme. In fact, Ginger's world is about to end—the world of childhood, innocence, and absolute trust. (Read more in this week's Good Times)
Okay, so nobody wore this long, hippie hair in 1962—it was the era of the bouffant and the beehive. But otherwise, in emotional terms, this movie is right on!