I turned this film off after five minutes because as far as I could tell, nothing about it was worth my time. Items of note that struck me as a waste of my time follow:
- Set in the 70's. Can the nostalgia thing please loosen up a little? We get it, the past is magical, and we can explore so many layers when looking backwards. But come on. It's a cheap way to paint a picture with broad strokes and get away with not telling a good story. Stories can be set in the past, but the past cannot be the main character.
- Aesthetics. Many a brilliant filmmaker have used aesthetic elements in film to communicate tones and ideas (Hitchcock, notably). Yet with their success and talent come he dimwits who decide to use aesthetics to take over the movie, stripping them of their subtlety and use and cramming them down the viewer's throat. This movie writes the word as such: ~aesthetics~
- Still imagery. COME ON. This is awful. Some of these run-throughs of still imagery remind me of such films as Amelie. I don't remember if Amelie ever uses still imagery...or even stock imagery, honestly, but the intention of 20th Century Women is similar to the intention behind the clips unrelated to the film's story in Amelie--it's a quirky way to make a story part of the larger world, reminding the audience that they have experienced these things, that they interact in the same world as these characters. But this film is lazy in its usage, on top of it being passé. The images are not carefully selected, and they are jarringly different from each other and the film.
- Voiceovers. The mother and son talking about the other with voiceovers, speaking slowly and deliberately. Again, lazy and silly and uncreative.
- The characters. The mother figure is the only one who struck me as "real" in that first 15 minutes. The photographer felt so out of place, and the son felt very detached from the reality of being a teenage boy. And that line that Elle Fanning's character says, about things being harder with him being horny? Ugh, please.
This film is way overrated and I feel perfectly comfortable with only watching 15 minutes of it.