Welcome to Thursday Trailer Face-Off, a feature in which we cast a critical eye on two similar upcoming film releases, pitting them against each other across a variety of categories to determine which is most deserving of your two hours. This week: Ginger & Rosa vs. Not Fade Away, two films depicting friends coming of age amidst war in the 1960s.
PremiseGinger (Elle Fanning) and Rosa (Alice Englert) are the best friends anyone could ask for. The precocious teenagers gallivant around London—as Ginger puts it, “roving about, being free,” navigating the city’s dark alleys arm-in-arm, with matching sweaters and giggles. But as the impending war escalates and Ginger fights for nuclear disarmament, personal turmoil aligned with the sexual revolution threatens to demolish their friendship.
Around the same time—but across the pond in New Jersey—a group of friends are starting a rock band. They have dreams of making it out of their parents’ living rooms in suburbia and on to the East Village, because, as John Magaro’s character Douglas, the cigarette-smoking, shaggy-haired lead singer declares, “There’s a music scene there, not here.”Advantage: Ginger & Rosa
DirectorNot Fade Away’s David Chase brought us The Sopranos as the show’s creator and head writer, but on the big screen, he’s still green; this is his first feature film, and it seems like he might be relying a little overmuch on his connections of Sopranos yesteryear. Still, if anyone’s going to make a movie about growing up in the New Jersey suburbs, it might as well be someone who knows that lifestyle all too well. On the other hand, Ginger & Rosa director Sally Potter had a roaring success 20 years ago with her film adaptation of Virginia Woolf’s Orlando (starring Tilda Swinton and Billy Zane)—but she has yet to reach this level of acclaim a second time.Advantage: Not Fade Away
Concerned ParentWe only see Natalie, Ginger’s Mom (Christina Hendricks) for two very brief moments in the Ginger & Rosa trailer, and only once do we hear her attempt at a British accent. But the arched eyebrow of disapproval that forms on her face as she looks at her daughter says it all. As for Not Fade Away, who better to play a Jersey dad than Tony Soprano himself? James Gandolfini plays Douglas’ father, who, in his gravelly Tony Soprano voice, explains that he “could give a crap about music.” He also has a distaste for his son’s newfound style, which has Douglas looking like a cross between The Strokes member, Albert Hammond, Jr. and a young Bob Dylan.Advantage: Not Fade Away
MusicIt’s cute that right as Not Fade Away’s trailer music, the familiar guitar riff to The Rolling Stones’ “Parachute Woman,” begins, a character says, “I’m starting a band like The Stones.” “Parachute Woman” captures that suburban angst well, but as a movie about a band trying to make it, we’d prefer to hear something a bit more original. The classic and distinctive saxophone of David Brubeck’s “Take Five” is perfect for the Ginger & Rosa trailer, to accompany snippets of making out in London alleyways.Advantage: Ginger & Rosa
Coming of AgeThe Cuban Missile Crisis inspires Ginger’s zest for political idealism, waving protest posters with peace signs while threats of the dissolution of her parents’ marriage and her friendship with Rosa loom large. In the trailer, the happy saxophone slows to a more somber tune and Ginger concedes, “I loved you, Rosa, but we are different. You dream of everlasting love, not me. Despite the horror and the sorrow, I love our world. I want us all to live.” Douglas’ coming of age in Not Fade Away seems to mostly consist of self-indulgent teenage boy behaviors like growing his hair out, smoking, sparring with Dad, making out with his girlfriend Grace (Bella Heathcote), and the usual delusions of grandeur.Advantage: Ginger & Rosa
The VerdictDespite the David Chase New Jersey treatment, judging from the trailer, the plot for Not Fade Away appears trite. And anyway, we’re just too invested in Elle Fanning’s burgeoning career (and the red hair and British accent) to skip out on Ginger & Rosa.Winner: Ginger & Rosa
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