Bbbbrrrrrrr Kiwi Lady Here! It’s Winter down under in New Zealand and The Lifeguard, starring Kristen Bell looked like just the Summery flick to warm me up. Written and Directed by Liz Garcia, I was expecting a light-hearted, romantic, chick-flick comedy. Movies about women turning 30 or 40 are usually a big hit for me, but boy was I in for a surprise! Yeah, yeah I read the synopsis and watched the trailer, but it doesn’t give you the dark details. More…
Kristen Bell plays Leigh, a 29 year old, single woman living in NY City. When she realizes her life hasn’t turned out like she planned, on the brink of a breakdown, she returns home to her small town life. This story probably hits a lot of nerves, no one really wants to grow up, do we? Taking her old lifeguard job back so she can basically do nothing and think about her options. She calls this “working on her life.” I think we all can relate to that. I’d love to have my old high school job back, working at the mall without a care in the world! On second thought I only made $4.00 an hour, hmmm maybe not.
About 20 minutes in, the story goes a little dark. She connects with a group of troubled teens and starts a sexual relationship with Little Jason, a 16 year old, played by David Lambert. She is desperate to hold onto her youth and he is desperate to grow up and leave the small town. He dreams of a better life in the big city. A few tender moments they share seem genuine. But, a couple passionate scenes seem forced, just for the sake of it. Being a mom of teenagers this kind of gave me the creeps. I had to remind myself – it’s just a movie.
A few times we are bombarded with a montage of clips strung together loosely, set to angsty music. They just seem odd and out of place, not enhancing the movie, but more of a time filler. What were you doing Liz? Maybe I just didn’t get it. The cinematography is hit and miss as well. Some scenes are rather beautiful, but others including the bouncy, handy-cam. I like still and smooth so you forget there is even a camera involved.
On the up side, the actors really deliver great performances. Kristen Bell does a wonderful job, feeling every emotion in her face without saying a word (I like that). I’ve seen her in plenty of comedies where she shines, but this dramatic side has enlightened me to her real talent. The young David Lambert (whew – actually 21 yrs old) portrays the 16 yr old very convincingly, another win for this movie. Co-stars, Amy Madigan (Leigh’s mom) and Mamie Gummer (Leigh’s best friend) hold their own within the cast. Both with sub-plots and deep relationship issues to deal with, I couldn’t help but feel sorry for all the characters.
Spoiler Alert: If you like movies with nice happy endings, this movie doesn’t quite deliver. Instead it gives you harsh reality, suicide, and loneliness.
With all the ups and downs I give it 3 stars out of 5. You may come out of the theatre analyzing your life, and the choices you’ve made. Movies should make you think, even if it’s about things you rather not. That’s my opinion anyway, hope you like it. Kiwi Lady says good-on-ya and you are only as old as you feel!