Paul Weitz’s Grandma manages to cover a lot of emotional territory in its short run-time without feeling rushed or over-reaching itself. Lily Tomlin plays lesbian poet Elle Reid who is still mourning the recent death of her life-partner Violet when her teenage granddaughter, Sage (Julia Garner), arrives at her door pregnant. Together, the two women embark on a day-long quest to find the money for Sage’s abortion.
It has been twenty-seven years since Tomlin starred in a leading role in a feature film, and she does not disappoint. Every moment that she is on the screen is magnetic and she handles the complexities of the character with sensitivity. Elle feels human, and the life-lessons that she inevitably learns over the course of the film don’t fall into the trap of feeling too dramatic or forced. Elle’s transformation, while predictable, is subtle and well realized.
Similarly, many of the other characters go through changes that would be expressed by a climactic moment in a more formulaic film but that are barely perceptible in Grandma.
Though much of the film’s charm can be attributed to the cast, Grandma seems to work on every level. The script is smart. The humour is refreshingly understated. Joel P. West’s score is sad and tender. There is no other way to put this, Weitz’s Grandma is the most enjoyable film I’ve seen in a very long time. It’s as beautiful and fun to watch as it is moving.
Catch Grandma at Toronto’s Inside Out LGBT Film Festival on:
Thursday, May 21 at 8:00 p.m. @ TIFF Bell Lightbox
Click here for more festival details and to buy tickets.
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