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Review: Grandma 

"Elle is an asshole, but she knows it."

In Paul Weitz’s slice-of-life dramedy Grandma, Lily Tomlin is Elle, a cranky poet trying to scrape together $630 for her granddaughter Sage’s (Julia Garner) abortion. It takes place in a day but manages to glance at an entire life, beginning with Elle’s cold break-up with Olivia (Judy Greer, terrific as always; in a too-small part, as always) and ending with a reconnection—to call it a reunion is too much—with her daughter (Marcia Gay Harden). In between she visits old friends including Laverne Cox, the late Elizabeth Pena and a wonderful Sam Elliott as her ex-husband. At a taut 79 minutes, Grandma only has scant time to spend with each person, but not a second is wasted, and Tomlin is a powerhouse, not so much revealing Elle’s layers as she is breathing them to life. Elle is an asshole, but she knows it. Indie champ Tobias Datum (Amreeka, Smashed) frames it all doc-style, giving Elle’s rants the room they deserve, but the final stationary shot is fitting and dignified. Grandma is a tiny, precious delight.
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Vol 26, No 42
March 14, 2019

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