Kamloops Film Festival in review: 20th Century Women

Each year, The Omega reviews the films presented at the Kamloops Film Festival. The festival came to a close on March 11.

Centred on the influences a young man will have while growing up, Mike Mills’ newest film is astoundingly beautiful, richly cinematic, and an absolute joy to experience. The closing film of this years Kamloops Film Festival was a packed screening, but it didn’t take long before the audience was absolutely taken aback by what was on screen.

Following the young Jamie in 1979 Santa Barbara, he is taught by his mother and several other influential women in his life on certain areas that he develops a curious interest in. With such a simple premise, it opens up the focus to the incredible characters that Mills and his cast create, never stooping low enough for cliché, instead giving such interesting perspectives that they feel nothing less than completely genuine.

The humanity of the picture stems from the semi-biographic nature of the material. Mills crafted his world from memories of his mother (something he would also do with his equally spectacular earlier film, Beginners). Along with hazy and meticulous cinematography from Sean Porter and a stunning soundtrack of 70’s gems, along with an original score by Roger Neill, the film becomes transformative.

Let the performances not be forgotten any more from the picture as they have been this awards season. Annette Bening as the mother Dorothea is nuanced in such a warm and understanding way that she invokes the sort of motherly kindness only relegated to your own mother. Written and acted with a precision and complete command of her performance, Bening would have outshone her fellow actors had it not been for their impressive breadth that allowed each to develop in meaningful, interesting directions. A film as creative and intimate does not usually get the attention it deserves, but this should. This film is unique and deserves your attention.