The first trailer has been released for 20th Century Women, an Annapurna film from writer-director Mike Mills (Beginners) set in Santa Barbara in 1979. Jimmy Carter’s famous “crisis of confidence” speech plays over a smattering of bright footage from the film, which stars Annette Bening, Elle Fanning, Greta Gerwig, and Billy Crudup. 20th Century Women follows Dorothea, a single mother struggling to raise her troubled teenage son (he skateboards, to really drive home the troubled teen point) on her own. But she seeks out the help of two women in her life: Abbie (Gerwig), a young and ambitious pink-haired photographer living with Dorothea, and Julie (Fanning), a young friend and confidante of Jamie who is wise beyond her 16 years of age. Together, the three women form a nontraditional family unit as they all help raise Jamie, teaching him about love, sex, heartbreak, and freedom. Crudup co-stars as a hippie-handyman who becomes one of Dorothea’s boarders, taking up residence in the bungalow behind her house. According to Mills, the three main women in the story are all based on women from his own life.
The trailer also spotlights lots of later 20th century touchstones: Carter! Old Volkswagen! Analog television! Propeller plane! It also makes great use of its breezy southern California setting, complete with an aerial shot of the Pacific Coast Highway. But despite its sunny West Coast aesthetics, there’s an underlying tension there, too. Young Jamie appears to get in a fight at some point, as troubled teens in movies are wont to do. “This is the really hard part, and then it gets better,” Dorothea tells her son. Though specific plot details don’t really come to light, it looks like the kind of heartwarming comedy that releases on Christmas Day. And indeed, that is exactly when it comes out.