Directed by: Paul Weitz – Starring: Lily Tomlin, Julia Garner, Marcia Gay Harden, Judy Greer, Laverne Cox, Sam Elliott, Elizabeth Pena, Nat Wolff, John Cho
Don’t let the starry cast fool you when it comes to this offering. This is Lily Tomlin’s movie, and everyone else (except perhaps Garner) is merely a cameo player to her Elle.
She is a lesbian poet and academic who has just broken up with her girlfriend, when her granddaughter Sage(Garner) arrives on her doorstep, announcing she is pregnant and looking for money for a termination. After recently cutting up her credit cards and clearing her debts, Elle is broke, so the pair embark on a trek around the city trying to raise the cash before Sage’s appointment.
It is hard to believe it has been 27 years since Tomlin made a movie. She is as vibrant and fresh as ever. She is completely hypnotic, to the extent that it is sometimes difficult to focus on the other players. Her scenes with Sam Elliott are like an acting masterclass, with both really giving their all.
The story develops nicely, as we learn the intricacies of Elle’s life and relationships, through her encounters with the people she knows. Equally, Garner and Tomlin have a lovely rapport as grandmother and granddaughter, with Garner acting as far more than Tomlin’s straight man.
Told in six acts, this is beautifully written, and will no doubt provide plenty of material for acting students to interpret in the coming months and years.
Relying on one actor to carry an entire film can be a big risk, but it has paid off for Weitz, with Tomlin knocking it out of the field Not always an easy watch thanks to the difficult subjects addressed, this is nevertheless always engaging, thought-provoking, and above all, moving.
It is also great to see the lesbian community represented in a realistic way, rather than the masculine stereotype so often foisted upon audiences, or even worse – the lipstick lesbians! All the LGBTQ characters here are well rounded, and more than just their sexuality and gender.
With a running time of just 79 minutes, no time is wasted, and it is never allowed to become boring. Not the cheeriest movie you will see this year, but an excellent dramedy that deserves to be acknowledged come awards season.
In Cinemas Now!