Grandma: Film Review

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Lily Tomlin has not been a lead in a movie since the 1980s and is best known for her comedy in the 60s and 70s, so I am not aware of her work at all, which I’m a little bit ashamed about because she is hilarious. I now want to go back and watch her old stuff.

Tomlin is Elle, a broke lesbian poet desperately trying to move on from the death of her longtime partner with Olivia (Judy Greer). One day she receives a visit from her 18 year old granddaughter Sage, who is pregnant and needs $630 to get an abortion by the time of her appointment later that afternoon. They embark on a road trip of sorts to try and drum up the money – they visit the baby’s douchebag father Cam (Nat Wolff), then a tattoo artist (Laverne Cox) who owes Elle money and her first husband Karl (Sam Elliott).

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It doesn’t sound like a particularly funny topic as abortion is such a contentious subject. The reaction to abortion is not depressing or too serious, because Elle approaches it with humour like it’s just a simple and easy thing to do. It is referenced a lot but the debate of whether it is right or wrong only comes up nearer the end when they came across pro-life supporters. I also think it has been handled sensitively by screenwriter Paul Weitz, who avoids making his own statement about the subject, but writes very smart dialogue about it with Elle, Sage and Sage’s mother Judy (Marcia Gay Harden).

Elle is very hot-headed and bad-tempered which makes for some very interesting scenes, including the way she handles Cam, but there are times when her shouting and bickering gets too much. Elle is a hard/cold person, and she does not take crap from anybody and this is the kind of person you need in a crisis. The way she interacts with different people is really interesting because they all bring such different perspectives to the table. The meet with Karl is particularly powerful and provides a massive chunk of back story into Elle’s life.

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I have to give props to Julia Garner too – she shares most scenes with Tomlin and she holds her own. She is vulnerable and too sweet for her own good but a lot of her reactions to Elle cracked me up. The synopsis does not scream fun at all but this is so sweet and it made me laugh a lot.

At the end of the day, it is a powerful look at three generations of a family and their relationships, how they cope with a health crisis. The script is top notch. I liked the statement it made about the cost of healthcare and the difficulties U.S. women face trying to handle feminine issues.

This is an indie so I imagine people won’t even be aware of its release and I wish they would. It is a heartwarming family tale and has a brilliant cast.

In cinemas 11th December 

Comments

  1. I like your review style, Hannah. Very authentic :). Would love to feature your reviews in our weekly curated email digest that goes out to thousands of people.

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