Each character’s understanding of the world is portrayed perfectly and the hilarity that comes with it is tear dropping.

20th Century Women documents the lives of residents in one Californian house in 1979. Dorothea Fields (Annette Benning) and her son Jamie (Lucas Jade Zumann) live with young punk Abbie (Greta Gerwing), and mechanic William (Billy Crudup). Together with Julie (Elle Fanning), Dorothea asks for help in raising her son, who lacks a male role model in his life. She believes he does not need one if each of the women impact on his life in the unique way each of them possesses.

It is a multilevel coming of age story. Focused on son Jamie, each character grows into the bonds they create leading to a network of creativity and understanding. The sense of naivety that ripples throughout the film is unprecedented. Each character’s understanding of the world is portrayed perfectly and the hilarity that comes with it is tear dropping. What 20th Century Women tries to suggest, is that a 15 year old boy can impact the life of a 50 year old woman just as much as she can affect his life.


These portrayals are without doubt a team effort. The script is smooth with creative direction and actors working together wonderfully. Annette Bening is particularly unbelievable. Her character is brilliantly hilarious and so wonderfully layered, and the way Bening portrays her compassion is unique and surprisingly fresh.
The style and placement are a pleasure to watch throughout with relaxed but precise cinematography. The setting of California is ideal with the use of natural light and outdoor freedom being vital to the film’s signification. The way that each character is absorbed into a different section of the 70’s major fads makes for a fascinating look at different people sharing what they have in common, even if it is miniscule. It is certainly a film of togetherness.

20th Century Women is set out as a mother asking for help but really, it’s a team effort. Each character fits perfectly into the completely uncliched dysfunctional family, and the work behind the scenes has created an ideal viewing platform for this. It is hilarious, it is real but most of all it is a model example of how cinema can still ignite fire from the quietest of corners.


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