Luke Clellan Dellorso
Sometimes, you just see a film that touches you. Sometimes, you just see a film that is an emotional roller-coaster of happiness, sadness, and the lessons of our youth. Sometimes, you just cannot wait to return to Aperture to watch 20th Century Women for a second, third, fourth time.
On a February night, Luke sat in Camino Bakery, plugging away at his work (or trying to at least), when he remembered that a film, which he was eager to see, was playing at Aperture in five minutes. So you know what? He treated himself to a little date and cannot recall a time in recent history that he has enjoyed a film as much as he enjoyed this particular one.
20th Century Women explores the lives of two women, a man, and a 15 year old son, living in a vintage mansion together. As the film outlines, the young man’s father is no longer present in his life, and as such, his mother, Dorothea Fields, played by Annette Bening, is struggling to raise him. In an attempt to salvage her relationship with her son, she pleads to the other residents of the house, as well as her son’s best-friend, to assist her in raising him.
Before I go any further and give anything else away, I will stop providing you with a summary, and rather explore why this movie means so much to me. The journey that every single character explores in this movie, is absolutely fascinating and heart-wrenching. Each character is more complex than the next, and each character has an effect on the
lives of those around them. As a result, you are privileged to witness a beautiful yet tragic display of courage, anger, disrespect, and growing up.
While exploring what it is about this film that brought me to tears on so many occasions, I realized that I saw myself in the shoes of each and every one of these characters. I put myself in their dispositions and emotionally explored what it would be like to experience their happiness as well as their misfortune, and to lay it out there, it made me cry. The highs of the film made me beg for happiness and the lows made my sit back into my seat and contemplate how I would deal with such a situation. In other terms, I explored, I questioned, and I ultimately learned- as IndieWire writer, David Ehrlich put it, “If there’s one thing that history teaches us time and time again, it’s that the past makes us feel like experts and the future makes us look like fools.” When I reflect back, I must say that the comedy was ingenious and the tale of growing up was absolutely fascinating but the greatest power emanated from the opportunity to view three truly different women, helping to raise a young man in an ever-changing and increasingly complex world.
Okay, okay, fine, fine, fine, I will tell you a bit about this piece! As Jamie, played by Lucas Jade Zumann, is experiencing puberty and learning “how to be a man”, his mother employs his closest friend as well as the other residents of the house, to guide him in becoming a good man in this modern day and age (which, in the film, is the 1970’s Southern California). Jamie soon finds himself intrigued by the ideals of Feminism and faces a harsh lash back from the other teenage boys who do not understand how to respectfully treat a woman. By the conclusion of the film, I realized that I was witnessing a mother raise her son, and address the question of “whether or not you need a man to help raise a son?” Tangentially, I realized that this story was absolutely beautiful and its cinematography and organization wowed me at every turn, as they animated the lives of these five characters, but I also realized, that this story was not about them- it was about Dorothea Fields and the amazing woman that she was. Now, I better run before thinking about this makes me cry! Please, Please, Please, go enjoy this artful masterpiece!
-Your Friend Luke