Grandma is the type of film which gives me hope for the industry. It isn’t exactly groundbreaking, nor does it push any kind of technological boundaries, but its storytelling which focuses on three generations of women – with hardly a man in sight – hints toward a future where gender inequality is a thing of the past, in cinema.
The film sees the fabulous Lily Tomlin playing Elle Reid, the titular grandma, a gay woman still grieving for the loss of her partner of thirty-eight years. What’s immediately more refreshing than seeing a leading gay female character, who also happens to be in her later years, is that none of those labels actually really matter.
The character of Elle Reid is feels first and foremost like a real person; one who has many conflicting emotions of anger, grief and love, which often come to the surface at the same time. She, like the other female characters in the picture – even those who are hardly on screen – are fully fleshed out as flawed human beings, which is a joy to watch.
The main focus of Paul Weitz’s screenplay is the relationship between three generations of women; grandma, mother and daughter, who are brought together when the young Sage needs to find money to abort her unplanned pregnancy.
It’s controversial subject matter, more so in the USA, which is approached with great sensitivity from Weitz. He successfully puts across all the different sides and views, without ever forcing them down our throats. There is an inner conflict that runs throughout, which comes to the forefront towards the end of the film. Through Julia Garner’s brilliant turn as Sage, the question of whether or not abortion is wrong is dealt with subtly and honestly; leaving us to make up our own minds on the matter.
This delicate way in which Weitz deals with the story is just one of the many reasons his screenplay should earn him at least a few no,inactions this award season – he’s received nominations in the past for the much lesser About a Boy. The script for Grandma is snappy, sharp, touching and genuinely absorbing; all of which is brought to life by the incredibly fevrant and wholehearted Lily Tomlin.
Telling the story in chapters, which are broken down by title during the film, Weitz brings with him a directorial style in the same vein of a Wes Anderson or Noah Baumbach movie; a coincidence in that the latter’s Misstress America from earlier on this year also impressed with its wonderfully written female characters.
With the imminent release of a certain film set a long time ago in a galaxy far away, Grandma will more than likely be overlooked by most. It’s a shame because it deserves to be seen by as large an audience as possible. It has award worthy performances and award worthy writing which deals with a complex subject, as well as complex female subjects, in a beautifully real and humanist way. Bravo.
Image credit to http://www.impawards.com