Grandma

Self-described misanthrope Elle Reid has her protective bubble burst when her 18-year-old granddaughter, Sage, shows up needing help. The two of them go on a day-long journey that causes Elle to come to terms with her past and Sage to confront her future.

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  • ★★★★ review by Adam Kempenaar on Letterboxd

    Oh, the joy of going into movies being almost completely clueless about them.

    Lily Tomlin.

    Paul Weitz.

    Abortion.

    Could be a cloying AS GOOD AS IT GETS clone with a crotchety old lady instead of a crotchety, condescending old man.

    That's the list. So I get to discover a performance like Sam Elliott's, that completely stuns and thrills me – perhaps unlike any other performance of the year, honestly. The whole Elliott-Tomlin detente is its own self-sufficient drama. Three acts, mind you, in all of 10 minutes or so of screen time? There might be seven.

    Lot of Sundance-y disaster potential here, and Weitz – aided by Elliott and a game Tomlin – swiftly sidesteps almost all of it by simply playing it straight, and grounding all the acrimony (and humor) in genuine anger and pain.

  • ★★★½ review by brat pitt on Letterboxd

    i know every review of this is "i want lily tomlin to be my cool lesbian grandma" but i truly don't know what else to say so ... i want lily tomlin to be my cool lesbian grandma

  • ★★★★ review by bree1981 on Letterboxd

    A short and snappy indie drama from writer/director Paul Weitz that doesn't waste a beat. Lily Tomlin stars as Elle, a stubborn women with an acerbic tongue who has just broken up with her girlfriend and showing the early signs of a breakdown. When teenage granddaughter Sage (Julie Garner), appears on her doorstep and ask's to borrow 630 bucks so that she can have an abortion before the end of the day. It gives Elle, who only has 43 bucks to her name after cutting up all her credit cards, something to focus her energies on and the pair set off in Elle's vintage Dodge Royal to visit a series of old friends and lovers, digging up ghosts from the past and closing doors on some long forgotten relationships.

    This works as a sort of three quarter life crisis movie, a cross generational road trip and a poignant comedy/drama, it wonderfully scripted with the dialogue feeling very natural and features some great supporting turns from the likes of Marcia Gay Harden, Sam Elliott and Judy Greer but the films real strength is the performance of the two leads. Tomlin is the star of the show with a performance full of anger, vulnerability and razor sharp wit, her great comic timing is evident throughout as she spars with the various characters that come in and out of the film. Julie Garner has the less showy role, she's more of an observer but proves herself to be an actress to keep an eye on, her porcelain skin gives her a real timeless quality and her reactions to her Grandma's occasionally over the top behaviour add an extra layer to the film.

    Overall, this is low budget, indie filmmaking at it's finest, a simple story full of funny and bittersweet moments that's well written, full of heart and features a cast at the top of their game, a film well worth seeing.

  • ★★★½ review by Jason Ooi on Letterboxd

    It feels like your generic independent film at times, and the sassy titular Grandma making witty quips and acting like a child gets old after a while, but it's impossible to ignore the beating heart within Grandma.

    The film is a quite intimate reflection on the things we lose when we get older, and the things we don't quite appreciate or notice while we're young. The acting is poor at times, but simultaneously great at others. The dialogue is a tad awkward, but understandably so - when a girl and her grandmother go on a road-trip for money to fund an abortion, why shouldn't it be awkward?

    It doesn't glorify or objectify the actual abortion to much scrutiny, for the abortion is just a small blip in the grand scheme of things. What we are really forced to pay attention to is this blending of three generations of women who are all on not so good terms, looking at the specific mistakes they make and the successes they encounter so that the other may learn from it.

  • ★★★½ review by TajLV on Letterboxd

    Part of my 5 Directors x 5 Unseen Films (14) challenge.

    So nice to see Lily Tomlin in a leading role at age 76 and still dominating every frame she's in. Writer-director Paul Weitz gets full credit for making this highly entertaining film happen, with Tomlin as the aging lesbian professor Elle Reid, who has just broken up with her girlfriend of four months, a much younger cafe waitress named Olivia (Judy Greer). Elle wants to help her pregnant granddaughter Sage (Julia Garner) raise the $630 she needs for an abortion, which sets off a day of encounters that show who "friends" really are.

    Because Elle has paid off her debts and cut up all of her credit cards, she doesn't have the cash Sage needs, so one by one, they hit on everyone who might be able to help out. Elle's tranny tattoo-artist friend Deathy (Laverne Cox) owes Elle $400; she hasn't got it, but she borrows $60 to help out. Sage's boyfriend Cam (Nat Wolff) isn't coughing up, so Elle extorts $50 out of him ... by force.

    Trying to sell first edition feminist books to her friend Carla (Elizabeth Peña) doesn't work out; nor does putting the touch on her ex-husband Karl (Sam Elliott), who is firmly against abortion. As a last resort, they approach Sage's mother Judy (Marcia Gay Harden), and although she's enraged by the entire situation, she reluctantly agrees to put up the cash that's needed.

    Tomlin really carries the load here and Garner does a fairly good job of keeping up. One of the funniest bits is the scene outside the abortion clinic when Elle is confronted by a pro-lifer named Jill (Sarah Burns) and tries to present an alternative viewpoint to the woman's adolescent daughter Wendy (Meg Crosbie). For her role, Tomlin was nominated for the Golden Globe's Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture - Comedy or Musical. Nicely done!

    Recently added to my LGBT Films Ranked

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