Sally Potter's drama sees the lives of two young girls in 1960s' London (Elle Fanning and Alice Englert) complicated by the sexual revolution and the threat of nuclear apocalypse
London in the 60s might have a reputation for being swinging (and full of swingers) but it's easy to forget that it was also a decade that opened with some pretty terrible stuff. Through the shell-shocked eyes of teenage Ginger (the phenomenal Elle Fanning) the Cuban missile crisis sparks the fires of revolution which greedily burn away her comfort zone.
Coy allusion, dreamy vignettes and simmering resentment are the order of the day as a simple story unfolds; the camera rarely far from Fanning's face, which in turn is rarely far from sorrow. And with a friend like Rosa (Englert) she's got a right to sing the blues. Ginger is the flame-haired spirit of revolution, Rosa is the smouldering Lolita carrying the torch, misguidedly, for sexual liberation; and they're both excellent. Potter niftily swipes at the hypocrisies of feminism during the era, but also celebrates its triumphs and leaves just enough ambiguity over her intention to keep things sparky.
A curiously British film (recalling Derek Jarman's knack for pretty visuals and grimy subtext) Potter has cherry-picked a great, largely foreign cast. The sultry Christina Hendricks is marvelous as Ginger's put-upon mother. Where her daughter is the delicate rebel, she is torn between bohemia and domesticity (ironically placed there by a beatnik husband with a bad attitude). There's some stilted dialogue that isn't quite justified by the beautiful visuals, and a few scenes so light on substance they fritter away into the mix but with all-around great performances, Potter further cements her place as a master of style.
Fantastic performances, especially from the young stars, make up for moments of artificiality. Fans of the Beat-era will delight.