Tuesday, September 29, 2015

[Review] Grandma

Lily Tomlin gives a great performance in Grandma. You can add this film to the list of pleasant movies that take place over the course of one day, as well as the list of great female-centric comedies of 2015.

The film opens amidst a scene of Elle (Tomlin) breaking up with her much younger girlfriend (played by Judy Greer). We get the impression that Elle is a bit misanthropic (that's an understatement, according to her) and has a disregard for the feelings of others. But we also learn that it's only been a year and a half since her partner (of 30 years) passed away. The very next scene shows Elle crying in the shower, so we know there's some dimension to her aside from being a big meanie.

Shortly after, her somewhat estranged 18-year-old granddaughter Sage (Julia Garner) shows up at Elle's house. She need 630 dollars. For an abortion. But Elle is currently broke, so she begrudgingly takes Sage under her wing and they set out to scrap up some money in various ways. That's literally the plot. But of course, along the way some shenanigans ensue, old wounds open as Elle comes in contact with her past, and there is some major women power commentary throughout. When Elle decides to sell some books, she asks, "You've never heard of The Feminine Mystique?" and Sage says, "The X-Men character?"

Lily Tomlin is wonderful here. Her character becomes the endearing, no-nonsense curmudgeon. Even though she's pretty rude to multiple strangers, she spouts off some hilariously blunt things. And her tough love and protection for her granddaughter is something to behold. At one point, Elle beats Sage's jerky and unsupportive "boyfriend" with a hockey stick, and you might find yourself wanting to clap.

Grandma deals with a touchy subject, but it's a very sweet and genuine story, and a light spin on mother/daughter relationships. But it's so easygoing, and the runtime is only about 75 minutes, so the film might not end up being super memorable as a whole. However, Tomlin's character is one you won't forget.


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