The Southern Californian sunshine of 70’s had never felt so liberating and chaotic at the same time. The introduction of punk, increasing consumption of drugs, governance of Jimmy Carter, penetration of art into modern culture and with that, rise of wisdom which often reflects in existential pains. Mike Mills, with 20th Century Women, had taken a dig at culture clashes, parenthood, concepts of feminism and the mere idea of happiness through compelling characters and real life situations.
The credit to raise this Indie drama a notch above everything else out there is its majestic writing. Mike Mills has written a screenplay which oozes shrewdness while holding back onto the lighter moments, making it a perfect blend for such a genre. The awkward synergy between a single-mother Annette Bening (who is simply brilliant here) and his unorthodox son Lucas Jade makes way for pivotal conversations which repeatedly nails the theme of the motions. With an outstanding background score and detailed cinematography, the feels become heady and the experience, radically nostalgic.
Which is not to say that 20th Century Women is devoid of any flaws. It is sometimes self-conscious in its delivery, injecting scenes which feel forced and unwanted into the grand scheme of narrative. It might have also benefited from a slightly crisper third act in which the meanderings of Dorothea, Jamie and Julie be brought to swifter conclusions. But the abundant honesty in the approach along with the maturity of the content and beautifully complex characterization hides these flaws under the carpet for 20th Century Women.
The fleeting angst of new born intellect, the desperation to be edgy, the curiosity to explore the opposite sex, the thunder and unnecessary rage within, the new found freedom, all the rebel music tracks, careless pots, blind patrolling on the corridors of love, the sighs of first heartbreak and at the end of the tunnel, acceptance. 20th Century Women pockets all these moments in its sunlit basket and presents a wonderfully warm and exquisitely written coming-of-age drama which lingers long after it lasts.