Movie review: Ginger & Rosa (2012)

This was an odd film. A disturbing film. I was especially bothered by the narcissist husband and father. He lived his life presumably living up to some high standard—better than anyone else—but oblivious to those around them. Not caring about the effect his actions had on them. Not caring about the destruction he created around himself. Not caring about the lives he ruined. Including his wife’s. His daughter’s. His daughter’s best friend’s. And her unborn child’s.

The movie was a study in betrayal. Of friends and spouses. Ginger and Rosa were born on the same day, at the same hospital. Their mothers were in labor in neighboring beds. The girls grow up together and are inseparable. Hanging out together. Getting into escapades together. But then we see the cracks. One an activist, obsessed with the danger of world destruction from the bomb. (The film is set in the early 1960’s.) The other a Christian. Ironically, a faith lambasted by Ginger’s narcissist father who rebelled against all authority. Yet Rosa would become his soul mate.

The cracks in the friendship quickly turn into a chasm when Ginger’s father starts to show interest in Rosa. And Rosa starts writing him letters, touched by his seemingly tortured, emotional soul. (BTW, the girls are still girls. In school. Under age.) The affair nearly destroys Ginger, who was witness to their sexual encounters again and again—on the boat, in her father’s apartment. They did not try to hide it from her. The relationship or the act of sex. It was true love. But of course, her father asked her to keep it from her mother—his wife.

Secrets never stay secret. Especially when it is an affair between one’s best friend and one’s father. Seeing the pain that a narcissist causes around himself as he passes through life, oblivious to all but his own desires, made me wince.

Before the affair, before the betrayals, there were touching, even funny scenes involving the friendship of Ginger and Rosa. Like when the two of them are sitting in a bathtub reading the funnies and after a while stand up to see if their jeans have shrunk enough. Or when one of them was ironing the other’s hair. On the ironing board. Or seeing Ginger reading in bed at night, with one of her teddy bears tucked in the crook of her arm.

Humor and sadness. Laughter and tears. Betrayal by a father and a best friend. It was a harsh world for Ginger. In some respects though, even as they diverged, Ginger and Rosa were on parallel paths. Rosa was intent on saving Ginger’s father (her own words). And Ginger was intent on saving the world from the bomb. It was an odd film. A disturbing film. Forget the bomb. The real destructive force in Ginger’s world was the narcissism of her father.



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