MESSAGE IN THE MOVIES
Photo by Sony Pictures Classic
Directed by Paul Weitz. Starring Lily Tomlin, Julia Garner.
If you take the time to read the comments section after my reviews you will soon discover that I have panned movies that many people love, dismissed some films that some people like, and liked some films that most people hate.
Well, hold onto that cup of coffee. Grandma is a film that I liked quite a bit that I am going to try to talk you out of seeing. By no means am I trying to put myself on a lofty pedestal above my readership, but I do want to make sure that no one buys a ticket to a movie that they will walk out of after fifteen minutes or so. Call it – to use a church term – good stewardship.
This is a movie that is front-loaded with a basket of pitchforks guaranteed to flip the switch of many Christian viewers. Grandma tells the story about Elle (Tomlin) a lesbian grandmother who is still mourning the loss of Vi, her life partner of 30 years, and is in the process of breaking up with her new girlfriend Olivia (Judy Greer), who is younger than her daughter (Marcia Gay Harden). Into Elle’s life comes her granddaughter Sage (Garner) who is pregnant by a guy (Nat Wolff) she doesn’t love. Sage needs money for an abortion and is coming to Elle for help, since she has a tenuous relationship with her mother. Since Elle has recently destroyed all of her credit cards, if she is going to help her daughter raise the $500 for a scheduled abortion later that same day, they have to hit the road and try to collect some favors. Most of the characters swear a lot. And – in spite of all of that – it’s a comedy-drama.
So this is a film that you will probably want to skip.
Now – for the ten percent of so who are intrigued about why I liked this film – here goes: Grandma is at its heart a love story in which Elle is forced to revisit just about every painful place in her life in order to help her granddaughter at a time of need. The film deals honestly with grief and also presents a balanced meditation on abortion. While empathetic with those who make the decision to terminate a pregnancy, Grandma also considers how that choice can bring residual pain to the woman and those whom they love for decades to follow. In its own unique way Grandma can be viewed as a pro-choice and a pro-life film.
All of the actors are fine, but this is Lily Tomlin’s movie and she creates a character that is full of energy and love and vulnerability and pain. There is real chemistry between Tomlin and Garner as grandma and granddaughter. This film made me laugh, but it also broke my heart. At just 80 minutes long (an hour and fifteen minutes plus end credits), it is short and snappy. It may be filled with a lot of dirty stuff, but there’s a pony if you are willing to dig deep enough.
Three halos: A well-acted depiction about how painful and difficult life and reconciliation can be.
Four pitchforks: Swearing, sex outside of committed relationships, swearing, anti-Christian humor, swearing, marijuana smoking, swearing, hurtful speech, swearing, abortion subplot, and don’t forget about all of the swearing.
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Rev. Bruce Batchelor-Glader
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