20th Century Women is a slice of life period-drama which focuses on three unique women and their modern lives as set against the backdrop of 1970's California. The film is from executive producer Chelsea Barnard (Her, Foxcatcher). It is written & directed by acclaimed filmmaker Mike Mills (Beginners).
Dorothea (Annette Bening) is a single mother living in a time period of cultural change and revolution. She is trying to raise her teenage son Jamie (Lucas Jade Zumann) and is going through her life living in the moment. Dorothea has a crush on William (Billy Crudup), a repairman, who begins to enter the lives of Dorthea and Jamie.
Abbie (Greta Gerwig) is a punk artist who boards in Dorothea's house. Julie (Elle Fanning) is a neighborhood girl who is friends with Jamie and who frequently crashes at the house. Things becoming complicated between Julie and Jamie when Jamie starts to have feelings for her: suddenly their close friendship is in turmoil as Jamie wants it to be more than friendship.
Throughout the story, Dorothea tries to make sense of the changing times. There is a cultural revolution which is leading to big changes in both her and her son's life. Jamie is becoming a young man himself (and this is also a coming-of-age story).
The film is certainly about the changing times in culture and society in America but it is also, likewise, a story about the love between mother and son and a story about the relationships that people have with one another. This makes it a more personal film and one which feels poetic in style as it takes a fond look back at the 70's.
The music score by Roger Neill (Beginners, Mozart in the Jungle) adds to the film's ambiance with great flair. The film also features a stellar soundtrack with lots of great classics from the likes of David Bowie and Talking Heads. The cinematography by Sean Porter (Green Room, Kumiko: The Treasure Hunter) is bold, striking, and nostalgic. The costumes designed by Jennifer Johnson (Hard Candy, Beginners) do well at reflecting the time period.
Written and directed by Mike Mills (Beginners), this semi-autobiographical film is an excellent exploration of changing times and of the lives of the women who are living in a modern world. Mills gives the film a nostalgic and thoughtful style which permeates the storytelling. This is amongst the most personal, thoughtful, and entertaining films of the year. With a terrific cast (and a stunning performance by Bening), 20th Century Women is a must-see film for fans of great cinema.
20th Century Women arrives on Blu-ray from Lionsgate with a 1080p MPEG-4 AVC encoded high definition presentation in the original theatrical aspect ratio of 2.00:1 widescreen. This is certainly a strong presentation. The transfer has strong colors and great overall clarity. It is a good representation of the beautiful cinematography by Sean Porter. This is a robust, well-defined, and satisfying presentation.
The film has received a quality lossless 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio surround sound presentation. This is a great sounding audio mix which is enhanced by the great selection of classic rock and pop songs. The music enhances the style and mood of the filmmaking. Dialogue is crisp, clear, and easy to understand.
Subtitles are provided in English SDH (for the deaf and hard of hearing) and Spanish.
Please Note: This release is a Blu-ray + Digital HD UV Combo Pack.
Audio Commentary with writer/director Mike Mills
Making 20th Century Women (10 min., HD) is a behind the scenes featurette about the production of the film, featuring interviews with the cast and filmmakers.
20th Century Cast (11 min., HD) focuses on the ensemble cast and features interviews with Mike Mills, Annette Bening, Greta Gerwig, Billy Crudup, Elle Fanning, and Lucas Jade Zumann.
20th Century Women is a thoughtful, entertaining, and nostalgic look at the changing times of the 1970's. It's a film filled with great performances from a strong ensemble cast and it features a terrific lead performance by Annette Bening. Mike Mills' semi-autobiographical film is an emotionally rich and rewarding experience worth seeking out.