Ben Oliver

Banner image for Grandma


Where can you get a reasonably priced abortion in this town?
13 March 2016

A woman (Lily Tomlin) visits old friends to help her grand-daughter (Julia Garner) pull the funds together for an abortion.

Grandma revolves around its title character and Lily Tomlin is more than up to the job of holding this film together. She’s acerbic and mean, yet kind to her grand-daughter. It starts to feel a bit like shtick, but the film goes in some interesting directions and stops us getting too tired of the routine.

The stand out moment is a ten minute sequence with Sam Elliot, the only truly well written exchange in the film. He plays an ex-husband she abandoned 35 years ago. The actors battle it out and two whole lives get laid bare on screen. For some, time heals all wounds, for others they hurt forever.

Unfortunately there are no other moments like this and despite Tomlin’s great work, Grandma starts to feel sterile. The abortion itself is a mere afterthought, which would be fine but the film isn’t building to anything else.

Still, Grandma is worth your time partly because at 80 minutes it won’t take much of it, and of course partly because of a brilliant central performance.

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