Updated: Friday, 7th August 2020 @ 1:30pm

Now showing @ Cornerhouse... Reviewed: Ginger & Rosa and Beasts of the Southern Wild

Now showing @ Cornerhouse... Reviewed: Ginger & Rosa and Beasts of the Southern Wild

By Robbie Gill

This week at Cornerhouse sees the thought-provoking Ginger and Rosa and the critically acclaimed Beasts of the Southern Wild.


Review: Ginger and Rosa

Set in 1960‘s England against the backdrop of the Cuban Missile Crisis, Ginger and Rosa explores friendship and human autonomy from the perspective of two young friends.

They share a close bond but their lives follow different paths, leaving this trust seriously tested.

Elle Fanning gives an excellent performance as Ginger, who’s left-wing father, played by Alessandro Nivola, exercises his right to freedom in the most extreme of senses.

A former conscientious objector, jailed during the war, he develops a fondness of his daughters best friend Rosa, Alice Englert, who is equally taken.

His commitment to his freethinking principles are such that he neglects both his wife’s and daughter’s emotions in pursuit of his own goals.

His character’s moral speeches loose a touch of reality when exposed to this, but his abhorrent behaviour leads to some highly charged scenes.

Rosa and Ginger’s friendship is increasingly tested as the plot unfolds and Ginger struggles to handle the betrayal of Rosa’s and her father’s relationship.

Ginger becomes more deeply involved with the CND (Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament) as her fear for the future of humanity grows.

The narrative examines the motives behind protest, and whether emotional shock causes one to channel that into increasing radicalism.

The adults in the film grapple with whether Ginger’s protest is noble, reactionary or both and help her to come to terms with growing up in such ominous times

Director Sally Potter has carefully balanced the film to keep it thoughtful and intelligent and avoid tipping the other way.

It failed to meet the highs of some of Potter’s previous efforts but was enjoyable none the less, provoking questions without being overly preachy.

 

Beasts of the Southern Wild

Claiming prizes at Cannes and The Sundance Film Festival, Beasts of the Southern Wild arrived with lofty expectations.

While it is enjoyable, its sense of high morality is at times precious, which soured the experience a little.

Set in a swampland shanty town in Louisiana using non professional actors, the narrative follows the life of Hushpuppy and her bullish, alcoholic father.

Hushpuppy is forced to tackle her father’s declining health and an incoming storm which threatens their very existence.

She is forced to learn how to fend for herself with her mother dead, and her father is neither reliable nor consistent.

Throughout the film there are surreal cuts scenes of prehistoric beasts that eventually come face to face with Hushpuppy, whose aura is such that the beasts retreat.

While her independence and strength of character grow throughout, her portrayal as a saviour is bordering on being too much.

Her philosophical voice over’s and conception of global warming is surprising for someone so young with seemingly such little education.

This is just one of a couple of moments towards the end where Hushpuppy’s character seems overplayed, almost forced.

That said, her bravery in the face of hardship cannot be denied and it is impossible not to empathise with the harshness of her life.

The people are very much separated from western societies and their differences are starkly shown by the late rescue attempts offered for the storm.

While not overtly expressed, there are clear allusions to hurricane Katrina in the belated help offered to the people of the swampland.

Behn Zeitlin’s talent is undeniable, the visuals are beautiful throughout and he does well not to overstate the poverty in the shanty town to seem miserable.

However, the sense of expectation was hard to match and while it made compelling viewing there was still a small sense of unfulfilled heights at the credits.

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