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Greetings again from the darkness. Perhaps your mental picture of a
grandma is the familiar form of a Norman Rockwell painting
bespectacled little lady baking pies or knitting booties or kicking
back in a rocking chair as the grandkids romp around her. If so, Lily
Tomlin will jolt you into reality with her performance in this latest
from writer/director Paul Weitz (About a Boy, American Pie).
The film kicks off with Elle (Ms. Tomlin) breaking up with her much
younger girlfriend (Judy Greer). As with many relationship break-ups,
the tone shifts quickly with an increase in 'let's talk about it'. Elle
tosses out "You're a footnote" as a zinger that quickly ends any hope
of reconciliation. It's an uncomfortable opening scene that aptly sets
the stage for what we are going to witness over the rest of the movie
Elle has lived quite a life, but has been unable to move on since the
death of her long time companion a recurring subject throughout.
The six segments of the film are titled: Endings, Ink, Apes, The Ogre,
Kids, Dragonflies. Don't expect those descriptions to help you guess
the direction of the film. Instead, it plays out like a road trip
through Elle's past
albeit with a very contemporary feel. See, her
granddaughter Sage (Julia Garner) shows up at the house asking to
borrow $600 for an abortion. Despite her career as a poet of some
notoriety, Elle is tapped out at the moment. So the two of them set out
in Elle's 1955 Dodge Royal (Ms. Tomlin's real life car), and proceed to
visit people (and hit them up for cash) who have played a role in
Elle's most interesting life.
During this journey which all happens during a single day the
ladies cross paths with Sage's clueless boyfriend (a miscast Nat
Woolf), a transgender tattoo artist (Laverne Cox) who owes Elle the
money she lent for enhancement, a small business owner (the final
appearance of the late Elizabeth Pena) who is a bit more tough-minded
than Elle gives her credit for, a long ago ex-husband of Elle's (the
best performance from Sam Elliott in years) who still carries
heartbreak , and most bombastic of all, Elle's daughter and Sage's mom
a workaholic, no non-sense, Type A professional (played with vigor by
Marcia Gay Harden).
Much will be made of the film treating Sage's decision so
matter-of-factly, but it makes for nice contrast to Juno, where the
decision to abort an unwanted pregnancy is abruptly reversed when she's
told the baby has fingernails. This movie even offers a tip of the cap
to that scene (bravo Sarah Burns), but is never preachy or heavy-handed
in its dealing with Sage. It's a young girl in a real life situation,
and she is depending on her dysfunctional family to provide financial
and moral support.
One might describe this as an art-house movie with wider appeal. Lily
Tomlin makes this a must-see, as do Julia Garner and Sam Elliott. Some
will avoid it due to the abortion topic, but this is much more a story
of three strong women who are related to each other even if they
don't always relate to each other.
Tags for Grandma Full Movie
, Judy Greer
, Julia Garner
, Lily Tomlin
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