Clever And Lovely
Paul Weitz’s Grandma is a clever indie that’s completely engulfed in its effortless perfection.
Elle Reid (Lily Tomlin) is a lesbian poet coping with the recent death of her lifelong partner. She ends a four-month relationship with a younger woman, Olivia (Judy Greer) before a visit from her 18-year-old granddaughter Sage (Julia Garner). Sage is pregnant and needs $630 for an abortion that’s scheduled for later that day. As Elle is broke and Sage has had her credit card taken by her mother Judy, (Marcia Gay Harden) the two embark on an odyssey across Los Angeles to get the money.
Grandma is 79 minutes long and yet’ it never feels rushed. Films that take place over the course of a single day never do. This is because films like Grandma understand that a lot can happen in a day and the cast of Grandma tackles the experiences of their characters so easily.
Paul Weitz wrote the script with Lily Tomlin in mind and I can understand why. Elle Reid has the same sass, passion, humor and essence that Tomlin does. Tomlin simply plays herself in a different life. Elle is in a very vulnerable state when we first meet her and she deals with it by lashing out at someone who cares about her. She hasn’t dealt with her grief and Sage’s problem gives Elle a much-needed distraction. Throughout the course of Grandma, you learn more about her past, the choices she made and the reality she’s living in.
Julia Garner’s performance is miraculous because she was able to give someone so ordinary such complexity. Sage hasn’t made the best choices for herself but you can’t really blame her. She’s at a very important time in her life. She’s 18, doesn’t see her grandma that often, has a mother that’s always working and no father. She’s been on her own and she’s very independent but not rebellious. The day she spends with Elle allows her to see her grandma, herself, and her mother in ways she has not before. In moments of crisis, we often learn a lot about ourselves, and Sage is the most embraced character with this.