The Film (5/5)
Mike Mills debuted with the mumblecore dramaedy Thumbsucker. It was a quirky and entertaining, but largely forgettable film. However, the director would reemerge in 2010 with Beginners, a biographical look at Mills own Father who came out of the closet in his 70's. He has now returned with what I can easily state is his best film yet, 20th Century Women. 20th Century Women is another semi-biographical film from Mills. Where Beginners was an exploration of his Father from the perspective of his Mills' own middle-age, 20th Century Women takes a fictionalized look at his own Mother from a teenage perspective.
The film stars Annette Bening as Dorothea, Mother of Jamie, and owner of a boarding house in late 1970's California. Jamie is a 16 year old teenager obsessed with punk rock, and skateboarding, and is just trying to have as normal a teenage experience as possible. Dorothea is concerned that the upbringing she is giving him is anything but normal, as he has no stable male figure in his life with the exception of William one of the boarders in his Mom's house. To counter this, Dorothea approaches Abbie (Greta Gerwig), another young boarder in the house, and Julie (Elle Fanning), Jamie's crush to help advise and direct Jamie through his teenage experience, they are not the male role model she wants, however, these 3 women engage with Jamie, and help him to grow up a little.
20th Century Women is absolutely one of the best films I have seen in recent memory. Mills successfully sets the period tone of late 70's California, and within that creates a nice free flowing drama/comedy blend. The film's atmosphere and direction channels a mix of Woody Allen and Wes Anderson. Mills direction keeps the film flowing at a solid pace, and his use of everything from archival footage from rock shows to Koyaanisqatsi is a nice quirky touch. The performances across the board are simply stunning, and each of this cast own these roles.
Lionsgate presents 20th Century Women in a spectacular 1:99:1 1080p AVC encoded transfer preserving the films OAR. Everything here looks very natural. Colors are well reproduced, detail is excellent, and blacks are deep.
Audio is presented with a DTS-HD 5.1 track in English. The track is quite solid with dialogue and score coming through strong and clear.
Not much here, we get a 10 minute interview with Mills, another 10 minute interview with the cast, and then a commentary with Mills.
20th Century Women is an excellent biographical period piece from director Mike Mills. The Blu-ray looks and sounds fantastic, and has a limited, but decent slate of extras. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.