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Grandma

August 28, 2015 by Alison Bailes divider image

Every now and then a film comes along featuring an actor seemingly playing him/herself. As an audience, we bring our preconceptions to the table, adding our media-fueled imaginings to the mix. It happened last year when Michael Keaton played a former superhero trying to reclaim his career in “Birdman”. Now the lines are blurred between […]


Every now and then a film comes along featuring an actor seemingly playing him/herself. As an audience, we bring our preconceptions to the table, adding our media-fueled imaginings to the mix. It happened last year when Michael Keaton played a former superhero trying to reclaim his career in “Birdman”. Now the lines are blurred between Elle Reid, a gay, feminist septuagenarian and Lily Tomlin, the woman who portrays her in “Grandma”, the wickedly funny, deeply poignant new film written and directed by Paul Weitz (“About a Boy”).

There is more to Tomlin of course than the fact that she is in her 70s, gay and a strong female role model. She is also known as a whip-smart wit with a quick tongue, characteristics that Elle shares. Elle’s acerbic, “take no prisoners” attitude forms the carapace of Tomlin’s performance, but there is also a deep well of bottled up, painful emotion peaking through. And there we are left to surmise at the similarities between screen and real life.

Elle is a writer of poetry who hasn’t published in years. Her older work is the kind that makes it into every Liberal Arts school women’s studies curriculum. She hasn’t written anything of note since Violet the love of her life passed away. Together they had a daughter Judy (Marcia Gay Harden), but Elle and she are not close. After a brutally honest breakup with her current girlfriend, Elle gets a visit from her granddaughter Sage (Julia Garner) who announces that she is pregnant and needs money for the abortion. Elle is flat broke and the two women embark on a picaresque quest to collect the amount from various friends and ex-lovers. Continue reading here.


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