In the latest trailer for Mike Mills’ new film 20th Century Women Annette Bening plays a single mother in 1979 who concocts a plan to make her teenage son (Lucas Jade Zumann) a “good man.” So she enlists the help of his best friend (Elle Fanning) and an artist (Greta Gerwig). Even in this short glimpse, a bullshit-free warmth permeates Bening’s performance as Dorothea. She wants to help her child, Jamie, but she’s not about to let him believe his own hype. “Men always feel like they have to fix things for women or they’re not doing anything, just be there,” she tells him. “Somehow that’s hard for all of you.” He responds that he’s not “all men.” She looks back, sweetly, “Well, yes, and no.” Later, Jamie does get some sex advice from one of the rare men in his life, embodied by Billy Crudup.
Like Mills’ Beginners, this movie too makes use of archival images to put a family saga into historical context. 20th Century Women will make for feminist holiday viewing when it arrives in theaters December 25.