Movie review: Elle Fanning’s performance in “Ginger and Rosa” makes up for plot miscues

By Columbus Alive
From the April 4, 2013 edition

When Quvenzhané Wallis (“Beasts of the Southern Wild”) became the youngest Best Actress nominee ever last year at the age of nine, she could have had a competitor that was just five years older.

Despite some minor year-end lobbying, “Ginger and Rosa” didn’t manage to get much awards steam for its young star, Elle Fanning, but she gives a well-rounded and devastating performance. Oh, and she’s only 14.

British teenagers Ginger (Fanning) and Rosa (Alice Englert) have been friends their whole lives. The height of their teen angst also happens to come at the height of the Cuban Missile Crisis. You know how teenagers think everything is the end of the world, right?

Writer-director Sally Potter layers complication in a deceptively simple coming-of-age story. The tale is uneven — notably her two title characters are certainly not given equal depth — but it sure does showcase the actors.

Fanning — younger sister of Dakota, whom, full disclosure, I despise — is really quite sensational. I liked her in “Super 8,” but that was nothing compared to this. Her range of emotion — and the effortlessness of her performance — is beyond her years. She’s definitely an actress to watch.

You’ll find more flaws in the film than in Fanning’s performance, but it’s worth watching on its own.