Calling your movie 20th Century Women means you could set it any point in the 1900s, as long as you make it about women. Writer and director Mike Mills, who made just such a film, chose to set in Santa Barbara, California, circa 1979. It was a time in this country when President Carter, giving his famous “Crisis of Confidence” speech, had to go on a national television and lament the “growing disrespect for government” and the “loss of a unity of purpose.” The movie, which will screen at next month’s New York Film Festival, is Mills’ first since Beginners and stars Annette Benning as a single mother trying to raise her teenage son in time of social and spiritual upheaval.
The other women of the title are played by Greta Gerwig, who shows up as Abbie, a scarlet-haired punk photographer who’s staying in Benning’s home and loves to dance and smash things in fits of rage. And Elle Fanning, who plays a cigarette-smoking, sexually provocative neighbor. The trailer’s dreamy first half, which features stunning aerial shots and is set to ambient music and the sound of Carter’s speech, opens up to reveal a more traditional coming-of-age drama, where a mother tells her son things like, “Having your heart broken is a tremendous way to learn about the world.”
20th Century Women open on Christmas Day, right in the thick of awards season. You can watch the trailer above.