Oscar-nominated for Best Original Screenplay. “Daringly freeform, writer-director Mike Mills’s wise, domestic comedy is first and foremost an attitude: Southern California, loose-limbed, Converse-clad and easing down the road on a skateboard. It’s 1979, and even though Ronald Reagan’s harshness is just around the bend, 20th Century Women is backward-glancing, concerned with a counterculture in self-discovery. The autobiographical film is set at a moment when bohemian sympathies and unconventional households could still give it a go. In the movie’s gorgeous Santa Barbara mansion – towering, shabby and accommodating – we feel Mills’s entire aesthetic in bloom, the one that hatched such off-kilter family portraits as Thumbsucker and Beginners.
“The characters of 20th Century Women generate a group narrative that’s just substantial enough to keep you in thrall by how uninhibited a movie can be. Jamie (Lucas Jade Zumann) is a quiet teenage boy. The three glorious women in his life wonder if he needs more structure, but combined, they’re the best education he’ll ever have. There’s Julie (Elle Fanning), the girl who sneaks into Jamie’s bed for platonic sympathy. Downstairs, there’s purple-tinted art punk Abbie (Greta Gerwig), a lodger who grapples for meaning. And lastly, Jamie’s mother, Dorothea (Annette Bening), is a chain-smoker and libertine: divorced, plain-speaking, worried. ‘She’s from the Depression,’ it’s often said of her, the words taking on a double meaning.
“When 20th Century Women concerns itself with the utterly human question of personal satisfaction, it’s huggable: the kind of movie you wish more directors had the courage to grab for.” - Time Out