Grandma

"Excellent"

Grandma Review


The fabulous Lily Tomlin finally gets the lead role she deserves in this smart, engaging comedy-drama. Like her title character, the film itself refuses to play nice, tackling big issues like abortion and the strain between mothers and daughters without ever simplifying the topics or the people involved. The plot may feel a bit contrived, and the entire movie rather lightweight, but it's thoroughly entertaining. And the subtle approach to the big themes gives it a strong kick.

Tomlin plays Elle, a mature woman who has just broken up with her girlfriend Olivia (Judy Greer) for no real reason. Then her young granddaughter Sage (Julia Garner) turns up asking for money to terminate her pregnancy. Elle doesn't have the cash, but offers to help her find it, so they head off into Los Angeles in her rattling 1955 Dodge, visiting the unborn baby's stoner father (Nat Wolff) and some of Elle's colourful old friends (Elizabeth Pena, Laverne Cox and Sam Elliott). But both Elle and Sage are terrified that they might ultimately need to get in contact with Sage's workaholic mother Judy (Marcia Gay Harden), the daughter Elle never knew how to talk to.

The layers of mother-daughter interaction in this film are fascinating, and played with riotously jagged chemistry by the gifted cast. Tomlin punches every witty one-liner perfectly, capturing Elle's life-loving spirit and also her weary exhaustion at the way the world keeps changing around her. Tomlin finds terrific angles in each of Elle's relationships, drawing out Garner's wide-eyed yearning, Greer's steeliness and Harden's professional bluster. Each of the side roles feels like a fully formed person with a life of his or her own, which gives context to the humour and makes the entire film feel more weighty and meaningful.

Written and directed by Paul Weitz, this isn't a movie that's terribly reliant on its plot. It's set up as a series of encounters that reveal more and more about the characters, giving them a gentle nudge forward in their relationships to each other. Each scene is packed with wit and insight, which makes the movie very funny, warmly involving and startlingly truthful. Weitz never makes an issue out of hot-potato topics like abortion, sexuality, ageing or grief, but quietly weaves these things into the fabric of these characters' lives. So while most audience members will be happy to sit back and laugh with these lively people, those who recognise themselves in someone up there on the screen will find something much more resonant to take home with them.

Rich Cline

Watch the trailer for Grandma here:



Grandma

Facts and Figures

Genre: Comedy

Run time: 79 mins

In Theaters: Friday 18th September 2015

Box Office USA: $6.9M

Distributed by: Sony Pictures Classics

Production compaines: Depth of Field, 1821 Pictures

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 4 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 91%
Fresh: 95 Rotten: 9

IMDB: 7.1 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Producer: , Terry Dougas, Paris Kasidokostas Latsis,

Starring: as Elle Reid, as Sage, as Judy, as Olivia, as Deathy, as Carla, as Cam, as Chau, as Karl

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