Combustible Celluloid
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With: Annette Bening, Elle Fanning, Greta Gerwig, Billy Crudup, Lucas Jade Zumann
Written by: Mike Mills
Directed by: Mike Mills
MPAA Rating: R for sexual material, language, some nudity and brief drug use
Running Time: 118
Date: 12/25/2016

20th Century Women (2016)

2 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Love in a Void

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Annette Bening stars — and will probably be considered for an Oscar — as a single mom in the late 1970s in Southern California. She decides that her teen son (Lucas Jade Zumann) needs a father figure and asks her two women tenants (Greta Gerwig and Elle Fanning) to start teaching him things about life. How this was supposed to make sense I couldn't quite figure out. The movie meanders for two full hours, and ends with the son narrating about how he never really knew his mom. Neither do we. It all seems like an excuse for writer/director Mike Mills — a former music video maker whose last film Beginners was quite wonderful — to revel in the time and place and play lots of cool music, from Black Flag to the Talking Heads and the Buzzcocks. Billy Crudup co-stars as a handyman with a big mustache, who, for some reason, isn't asked to be the boy's father figure.

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