Yesterday afternoon I saw “Grandma” with a friend.
The film is Academy Award nominee Lily Tomlin’s first lead in a feature film in over thirty years. The film is about an old lesbian and one day in her life. In that day she has to deal with the ongoing grief from the loss of her partner of 38 years, her strained relationship with her daughter, a breakup with her new younger girlfriend, an ex-husband and most of all her teenage granddaughter who comes to her looking for money so she can have an abortion.
For a film that deals with LGBT characters, death and abortion it is actually extremely funny. Yes, these are serious and complicated subjects but that doesn’t mean that they can’t be dealt with using humor. Don’t we all use humor every day to help get us through difficult situations? Despite the complicated subject matter the film is rather simple. But that is what makes it, and the very best indie films so great, a simple story well told is more than enough.
Lily Tomlin is a hoot, although I wonder how much she’s playing a character and how much she’s playing herself.
Julia Garner is quite good as her granddaughter. The film and Garner do a really good job of exploring the complicated decision of a teenage girl wanting to have a family one day but knowing she is not yet ready to take on the responsibility of a child. The film absolutely belongs to Tomlin and Garner.
There are also four small supporting performances worth note. Judy Greer makes up for her awful acting in “Jurassic World” (see my blog on that film) by giving an nice performance here as Tomlin’s younger love interest. Laverne Cox is amusing as one of Tomlin’s friends. Sam Elliot does a good job of showing his range (he was also good earlier this year in “See You in My Dreams”, check out my blog on that movie). While Marcia Gay Harden does a really good job as Tomlin’s daughter and Garner’s mother; she’s a woman who is clearly wound super tight and isn’t easy to be around but in the end does care about her family.
One last actor to mention is Elizabeth Pena who passed away last year. She has a tiny little role. It made me said because this was one of her last films.
“Grandma” is in very limited release but it worth seeing for anybody who wants to see a good story told well.
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