A 60s coming of age drama that sees two childhood friends come to terms with growing apart, Ginger & Rosa's dull plotting lets the side down as everyone is on top form.
The day the atom bomb fell on Hiroshima (a none too subtle metaphor for the personal devastation that is to come), Ginger (Fanning) and Rosa (Englert) were born. Rosa's father didn't stick around too long after, and while Ginger's dad, Roland (Nivola), stayed at home, his right-on politics and his treatment of Ginger's mum, painter Natalie (Hendricks), create tension in the house. By 1962, as Roland's wandering eye finds its way to the sexually adventurous Rosa, Ginger becomes obsessed with the world's impending annihilation from nuclear war…
Some of Ginger & Rosa works a treat but sadly the majority is flat. The treat is in the depiction of the girls' friendship: director Sally Potter (Orlando) works hard at building up the tight friendship; one scene sees the two girls snog boys in an alleyway and while her lips are clasped on her beau, Ginger can't take her eyes off Rosa. This is more than a friendship, it's an infatuation. That works but everything else just doesn’t click.
While Ginger always feels genuine and real, which is down to a brilliant turn from Fanning, Rosa by contrast feels stilted and written. Fanning's hard work can't help elevate Ginger above the role of a mere observer, though. Ginger doesn't do anything but react to what's happening around her and a perpetually passive character is hardly an interesting one. Nivola suffers a similar fate: he does his best to deliver his second year philosophy student dialogue without sounding like a total fool.
Potter might love spending time with the girls but one can't escape the sense that the film is still setting up when it should be knuckling down to the awkward business of plot and it's reluctance to do so results in the story being a real bore. Annette Bening, Oliver Platt and Timothy Spall pop up in smaller roles but their inclusion is rather distracting.
Come for the performances, stay for the setting, leave for the lack of story.