Grandma (2015)

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Grandma: Directed by Paul Weitz. With Lily Tomlin, Judy Greer, Julia Garner, Carlos Miranda. A teenager facing an unplanned pregnancy seeks help from her acerbic grandmother, a woman who is long estranged from her daughter.

“As abortion and its moral complexities continue to be a hot topic in politics, so it will be in film. u0026quot;Grandmau0026quot;, the latest indie feature from writer/director Paul Weitz, is the most recent film to deal with the timeless topic.u003cbr/u003eu003cbr/u003eThe film follows Elle Reid (played by Lily Tomlin) and her teenage granddaughter Sage (played by Julia Garner) as they struggle to find the money for Sageu0026#39;s abortion. This quest leads the two all across town, through Reidu0026#39;s past and back again, all because they canu0026#39;t go to Sageu0026#39;s mother, Judy, (played by Marcia Gay Harden) for fear of her wrath. u003cbr/u003eu003cbr/u003eAs far as films about abortion go, u0026quot;Grandmau0026quot; does little to justify the severity of its plot. Itu0026#39;s established early on that the only reason Sageu0026#39;s abortion is so urgent is because she just canu0026#39;t stand the thought of being pregnant, and so sheu0026#39;s made an appointment at a local clinic for later that same day. This means that all that frantic searching for money is all in the name of comfort. Sage could reschedule her appointment at any time, she just doesnu0026#39;t want to. Once this is realized, the entire abortion plot line is deflated.u003cbr/u003eu003cbr/u003eThis doesnu0026#39;t derail the film, however, because after viewing the whole movie, one realizes that the abortion is merely a MacGuffin, or simply a plot device used to move the story along that doesnu0026#39;t really have any value in and of itself. The film isnu0026#39;t really trying to say anything about abortion. Instead, it focuses on age. u003cbr/u003eu003cbr/u003eAs she takes her granddaughter from place to place, Reid is taken through a slide show of her past, visiting people she hasnu0026#39;t seen in years. Her character is a misanthropic lesbian whou0026#39;s easily angered by even the smallest of grievances, so naturally sheu0026#39;s made plenty of enemies throughout her life. As she searches for a solution to Sageu0026#39;s problem, Reid meets with old flames, former friends and even recent girlfriends, each of which has a bone to pick with Reid for something sheu0026#39;s done in the past. u003cbr/u003eu003cbr/u003eOne such visit is with Karl (played by Sam Elliott), Reidu0026#39;s ex-husband. As you could predict, this meeting leads to a heated argument about Reidu0026#39;s wrongdoings; a scene that ends up being the cornerstone of the whole film. Elliott provides an honest and heartbreaking performance that cuts right to the heart of the filmu0026#39;s narrative, highlighting the fact that Reid is trapped in a wiser body, tormented by the reckless selfishness of her past and left to deal with the consequences. u003cbr/u003eu003cbr/u003eReidu0026#39;s personal crisis is brought home by Tomlinu0026#39;s immense talent, which is really the biggest thing this film has going for it. She gives a certain vivacity to the character that brings the whole movie to life. Reidu0026#39;s regrets, strife and experience are all worn in plain view, and even through the barrage of verbal abuse that she spouts at those who displease her, one can see the years of hardship the woman has endured. u003cbr/u003eu003cbr/u003eHowever, in an ironic sort of way, Tomlinu0026#39;s excellent performance also hurts the film. Garner, a relatively new face in film at the age of 21, has yet to mature as an actress, so when sharing the screen with Tomlin, she withers along with the weight of her characteru0026#39;s troubles. In comparison to Reidu0026#39;s dysfunctional life, Sageu0026#39;s pregnancy doesnu0026#39;t seem like that big of a deal. The film establishes that Reid has lived through much worse than what Sage is going through, which undermines Sageu0026#39;s whole function in the plot to begin with. u003cbr/u003eu003cbr/u003eSo even though Weitzu0026#39; latest has less to say about the political climate than it initially implies, itu0026#39;s still a thorough exploration of age and what it means to live a life full of regrets. This may not be a revelation, as many films have tackled it before, but thanks to Tomlinu0026#39;s layered performance, u0026quot;Grandmau0026quot; has a definitive place amidst the ranks of its predecessors.”


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