Tom­lin get­ting bet­ter with age

Rutherglen Reformer - - The Ticket -

The so-called “grey pound” genre has seen older mem­bers of the Hol­ly­wood fra­ter­nity tackle ev­ery­thing from the ensem­ble piece (The Best Ex­otic Marigold Ho­tel) to drugged-up de­bauch­ery (Stand Up Guys).

Now 76-year-old Lily Tom­lin gets be­hind the wheel for a road movie writ­ten and di­rected by Amer­i­can Pie and About a Boy helmer Paul Weitz.

Tom­lin plays pen­sioner Elle Reid, who em­barks on a jour­ney with her preg­nant grand­daugh­ter Sage ( Ju­lia Garner) to try to get their hands on $600 be­fore sun­down.

At a time when awards-bait­ing flicks and even big bud­get block­busters are lucky to clock in at un­der two hours, it was a refreshing change to sit through a 79-minute, scaled-back story.

Weitz’s lean­est film yet is also his best since 2002’s About a Boy; al­though it’s not with­out its prob­lems. Though de­scribed as a “dram­edy”, and de­spite the pres­ence of com­edy leg­end Tom­lin, there aren’t many laughs. The tone of Weitz’s script is more acidic and while the no-fear ap­proach to tack­ling big­ger is­sues is com­mend­able, it of­ten de­tracts from the core re­la­tion­ship.

The sin­gle-day set­ting en­sures a fast pace but Elle is a char­ac­ter you’d be in­ter­ested in spend­ing ex­panded time with and find­ing more about, not least through a back­story re­ferred to by Sam El­liott’s enig­matic Karl.

It’s refreshing, how­ever, to see an older char­ac­ter who isn’t awash with clichés and Weitz isn’t afraid to gift Elle brash hon­esty and a firm hand.

Os­car nom­i­na­tion buzz is build­ing for Tom­lin’s pow­er­house turn and it would be nice to see the Detroit-born star fi­nally re­ceive recog­ni­tion – her one and only pre­vi­ous Acad­emy nod com­ing in the Sup­port­ing Ac­tress cat­e­gory for Nashville way back in 1976.

Her trade­mark put­downs are present and cor­rect but there’s also an air of vul­ner­a­bil­ity that sug­gests even in her mid-seven­ties Tom­lin is adding new strings to her bow.

Garner (Sin City: A Dame to Kill For) does well to keep up with her vastly more ex­pe­ri­enced coun­ter­part. She takes what could eas­ily have been a Juno clone and lends Sage fire, heart and ten­der­ness in a nu­anced per­for­mance that sug­gests a bright fu­ture ahead for the 21-year-old.

Marcia Gay Har­den has the un­en­vi­able task of try­ing to talk some sense into the co-leads as Elle’s daugh­ter Judy but there’s a real­ism to her grown-up be­liefs and con­cerns.

The end­ing is as ma­ture as the movie’s lead­ing lady and Weitz wisely shies away from the sch­maltz that hin­dered About a Boy’s cli­max.

Tight, talky and tak­ing on tough is­sues, Grandma sees Tom­lin de­servedly grab the head­lines but Garner stands up well to en­sure this is no onewoman show.

Gran knows best Tom­lin and Garner form a bond

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