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The Lifeguard
IMDB Rating: 5.7/10 from R votes
Release: 30 July 2013 (USA) /

The Lifeguard

Genre: Drama, Romance
Director:
Stars: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Synopsis: 29-year-old Leigh is on leave from her job in New York City after feeling a sense of emptiness and sadness in her life. Leigh has returned to her parents' home, to her high school job as a lifeguard and to her high school friends still in town. But Leigh continues to struggle in finding happiness since her parents don't approve and she's bullied by local kids at the pool. Leigh finds an almost like kindred spirit in high school student Little Jason; but when their friendship turns into an illicit relationship, her friends don't approve and even more tragedy awaits Leigh in her personal journey towards happiness. Written by Anne Campbell

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Critic Reviews


I couldn't believe the 5.5 average! People act like this movie is your guide to having sex with minors! Did they not see the rest of the movie? The tag line "this summer growing up is optional" is misplaced, because it makes you think this is a comedy; well it isn't. And maybe that's a reason why so many people didn't like it? They wanted to see a comedy and ended up with a sad not-yet-mid-life crisis drama. Or maybe when you can't relate to the problems the movie is dealing with, it's easy to focus simply on the love story and miss the point? This is a powerful character movie where every one of the main characters shows us something to relate too, or, as I perceived it, they all portray sides of the same issue.

Leigh (Kristen Bell) feels confused, depressed, lost. She is almost 30 years old and realizes she doesn't want to keep on living a life that does not fulfill her. She shouldn't have to. Leigh wants to feel alive again, she is tired of not being happy. "You look sad" Jason says to her, and that's exactly how she looks. She was a valedictorian, with high expectations, and then when she did grow up, it is not nice as promised. She wants to escape, bury her head in the sand, feel good again, feel alive. Is it bad to want to feel good? When Jason holds her in his arms, towering over her as she is so petite, she looks sheltered again, and "you will never be sheltered again", she tells Jason. She is "sucking his youth like a vampire".

Todd (Martin Starr) and Mel (Mamie Gummer) are Leigh's high-school friends. Todd, still living in a small town, still in the closet, works a job where he will not be missed if he goes away for half an hour. He looks sad too. "Why don't you leave?" Matty asks the obvious question; "I just can't". Inertia, fear. Growing-up (for real) is scary. The look on his face when Mel yells at him "what's wrong with you?", is so real, he looks so hurt. When Leigh starts her "escape trip" he is eager to follow. We will see him fall low in the process, but at the end, really grow. Martin Starr, and Kristen Bell as well, prove here that they can be great in non-comedic roles as well. Mel also follows her two friends in their carefree journey, although reluctantly. She looks like she has her life together. Married, a vice-principal, trying to get pregnant. A responsible grown-up. The picture of the perfect life, but she is stressed and unhappy. That "perfect" mold doesn't quite fit her. At the end, she get's to be more conscious of her wants and her choices.

To relive their youth, Leigh, Todd and Mel hang out with a group of 16-year-old boys, who are in their turn frustrated with being misunderstood teenagers in a small town. The interactions between the two age groups were beautiful, as each learns and grows from the other. The young cast was excellent too. Especially David Lambert as Jason, who did a great job looking like the mixture of child and adult that a teenager is.

The setting of the pool, Leigh's pale looks, the nature hikes, the quiet gas station at night, create a fitting melancholic atmosphere to surround the story. When the characters grow up at the end, Jason and Todd for the first time, Leigh and Mel for a second time, it's a mature choice, a step forwards. Time does only move in one direction, but swimming is different than just floating along.

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