Lily Tomlin in Grandma
Thanks to diva magazine
Grandma writer and director Paul Weitz says that he wrote the character of Elle Reid “hearing Lily’s voice”, and it’s Lily’s voice that lingers long after the credits have rolled in this surprising and delightful film that deserves awards attention.
A character led piece driven by the compelling stories of three generations of the same family, Grandma stars 76-year-old Tomlin as misanthropic grandmother Elle who has recently broken up with her much younger girlfriend, played by Judy Greer, when her teenage granddaughter Sage (Julia Garner) arrives unexpectedly needing $600 before 6pm.
Elle, having cut up her credit cards to make wind chimes – “I’m transmogrifying my life into art”, she declares – is temporarily broke, so the pair spend the day rattling skeletons and unearthing secrets as they try to get the cash together without Sage’s overbearing mother, played by Marcia Gay Harden, finding out what it’s for.
Deeply political, Grandma touches on serious issues – not least teenage pregnancy and abortion – without feeling laboured or pushing an agenda, though it does acknowledge the gravity of the matter.
Weitz, whose previous projects include About A Boy and American Pie, himself says it wasn’t his intention to make light of a subject that continues to fiercely divide public opinion, but to let the audience draw their own conclusions. “It puts it in the context of the characters, who all have their own perspectives towards the issue,” he says.
But it’s not just a film about abortion. It’s about love, loss, and the complicated relationship many of us have with our mothers. And it’s also a lovely portrayal of an older lesbian, whose stories are so rarely told, especially in cinema.
The results are glorious, and Grandma might just be one of the best films of 2015. It might be low budget, but you don’t need big bucks when you’ve got quality performances by legendary actresses like Tomlin. Her personality shines through Elle, bringing to life, and despite being something of an anti-hero, she’s the Grandma I wish I had.
Grandma hits cinemas on Friday 11 December.