Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Lily Tomlin's GRANDMA: A Reviting Drama, Sony Classic Film: Review by Polly Guerin

Julia Garner as Sage and Lily Tomlin as Elle (Photo by Aaron Epstein)
Courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics
What does grandma do when a feisty young woman arrives unexpectedly at her doorstep to announce her life is in crisis?  Well Lily Tomlin as GRANDMA is not your docile prototype. Tomlin's character Elle emerges from the cloth of a seasoned, well recognized academic, an acknowledged lesbian and an outspoken personality to roar with emotion.  Unlike stereotypes Elle reacts with tongue lashing sense and spontaneity. And of yes, despite the seriousness of the situation there are laughs and tears to be shed on this often humorous and poignant story.
     Lily Tomlin, like you have never seen her before, takes center stage in GRANDMA, the Sony Pictures Classic film, written and directed by Paul Weitz. The official Selection of the Sundance Film Festival and the Tribeca Film Festivals, 2015, Tomlin's Elle, is an aging academic and celebrated poet in probably the most memorable role in her eclectic career.
     As the story unfolds, Elle has recently lost her partner of 38 years, Violet, and the mood is somber yet comical. In an act of financial liberation Elle has also paid off her debts and to celebrate she cut up her credit cards and used them in a mobile of her own design.
     So just when curly topped, angel in disguise Sage (Julia Garner) her granddaughter, appears on her doorstep in urgent need of money, $600, to fund an abortion Grandma Elle's cash flow is at low tide. Where to get the money? The film takes off with generational dynamics with Grandma and Sage driving around Los Angeles and spending the day trying dig up the money.. GRANDMA, the film, turns into a captivating adventure as they try to get their hands on cash through unannounced visits to Grandma's friends and old flames---ending up rattling skeletons and digging up secrets.
     They  pursue their quest by starting off for the local free clinic only to discover it has been closed for several years, which  forces GRANDMA to re-think the path that must be taken. She tells Sage "This is something you will thinking about the rest of your life." Grandma Elle pulls a few punches as she encounters various people from her past.. Then there is Karl (Sam Elliott) with his sonorous rich voice reminding us of his Marlboro days, who lives in a mansion overlooking the Pacific Ocean. This must have been a long shot in Grandma's plan as she hasn't seen Karl, an old flame, in decades. Just when Grandma thinks her persuasive tactics have won him over, and Karl is almost ready to hand over some cash, he reneges when he hears it is for an abortion. There's more to tell in this Elle and Karl romance and their encounter after decades plays out with painful recall of love lost with disappointed recollection..
   When questioned about the film filmmaker Paul Weitz said, "The film is largely about moving on from loss through wit and empathy and the ability to say "screw you." I just hope a splinter will lodge in the viewers memory."
     We meet Sage's mother, Judy (Marcia Gay Harden), who Sage did not tell about her crisis, as Judy conducts business at a treadmill desk in her office. At first this seemingly hard-hearted corporate lawyer and single mom seems unsympathetic but in the end Sage ends up at a clinic with the support of the only family she knows, her estranged mother Judy and Grandma..
    Lily Tomlin leaves me in awe; her great capacity to portray GRANDMA with raw emotion and honesty is a testament to her diverse talent.. As Elle leaves the final scene walking down a road in Los Angeles, it leaves us with a sense of wonder. I would like to think that Grandma has become re-energized and inspired to write new poetry into her  future.
   Ta Ta Darlings!!! Watch for the film GRANDMA, starts this FRIDAY. Check the newspapers for local listings. Fan mail welcome just send an email to Visit Polly's Blog's on


1 comment:

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