Review: Grandma (15)

Julia Garner and Lily Tomlin in Grandma
Julia Garner and Lily Tomlin in Grandma
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Awkwardness turns to mutual need in this cross-generational comedy-drama as feisty septuagenarian Lily Tomlin steps out with her granddaughter to find an urgently needed $600.

Awkwardness turns to mutual need in this cross-generational comedy-drama as feisty septuagenarian Lily Tomlin steps out with her granddaughter to find an urgently needed $600.

It’s a spiky reunion, for the teen needs the money for an abortion. Mom (estranged, distant, power-dressing businesswoman) can’t know and Grandma doesn’t have the readies. Thus they embark on an odyssey across town. In doing so Tomlin and fresh-faced Sage (Julia Garner) delve deep into each other’s very different lives and discover a shared view of the world. Grandma is a movie about home truths and skeletons tumbling out of closets. Secrets spew forth – new lovers, old ones, emotional schisms, anger, resentment and a long-held sense of betrayal. Writer/director Paul (About a Boy) Weitz lays out an exploration of relationships on all levels. He considers partners (of both sexes), generations, old flames, boys and girls, mothers and daughters, focussing on our inability to communicate.

Tomlin faces up to issues that have haunted her for 50 years – her reunion with ex-boyfriend Karl (Sam Elliott) provides one of the film’s sensitive high points.

The spine of the film is Tomlin’s no-nonsense, feisty, foul-mouthed lesbian grandmother. But the satellite performances of Garner, Elliott, Elizabeth Peña, Judy Greer and Marcia Gay Harden are what give the film its life and humanity.

Tony Earnshaw