As if adolescence didn’t involve enough angst already, Ginger, a politically minded teenager, has the atomic bomb to worry about. Sally Potter’s new feature, set in 1962 England, sketches the friendship between Ginger (Elle Fanning) and her sultry pal Rosa (Alice Englert) and then, against the backdrop of nuclear menace, goes on to observe Ginger’s lesson in disillusionment.
With a rich sense of lived experience, Potter first portrays the blithe excitement and sense of joyful conspiracy shared by the two friends. But when Rosa catches the eye of Ginger’s father (Alessandro Nivola), a public intellectual, it’s more than she can handle. She compensates by throwing herself into the cause of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament. Her parents’ radical friends (Annette Bening, Timothy Spall, Oliver Platt) serve both as the film’s Greek chorus and Ginger’s sounding board; they are also clearer beacons in her life than her resentful mother (Christina Hendricks).
Potter’s drama boxes in Ginger’s anxious psychology too tightly, though Fanning’s spontaneous expressivity and fragile charms go a long way toward opening her up, especially as vibrantly photographed by DP Robbie Ryan. But even as we know where the friendship and the affair are tragically headed (hello, stagy climactic confrontation), Ginger’s youthful vulnerability and trusting ways give heart to this autobiographical movie made by an anarchist’s daughter