20th Century Women ★★★

I was a bit skeptical of all the praise that Mills's previous work, BEGINNERS, seemed to drum up; however, he has put a lot of my hesitation to rest here. Of course it's a character piece, so much so that the nearly aggressive lack of plot (instead we have narrative through lines that allow for a better understanding of characters and theme) can certainly feel alienating if the character work is mishandled. And there are a few points where that almost appears to be the case, but there's a sincerity both to the writing and performances that is bittersweet and melancholic, even in more seemingly joyous times.

Time, actually, is such a crucial factor to the film, even more so than gender, as the title would seem to imply. Actually, this would make an interesting companion piece to CERTAIN WOMEN, as the focus here seems to be much more on masculinity and gender differences, how we understand femininity through a masculine perspective or masculinity through the feminine. Which I guess makes sense since Reichardt is a woman, while Mills is a man. Things are getting jumbled, but this is only a capsule review, I guess. Time. Right. It explores how we are informed by the past, are unknowing of the future, which elevates the present we watch to much greater heights than one would expect.

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