Saturday, December 14, 2013
"The Lifeguard": a little bit too stylized and "popular" to hold sensitive story together to the end
“The Lifeguard”, by Liz W. Garcia, has been released to instant video on Amazon and Netflix with almost no theatrical release, despite significant corporate distribution (Focus World and Screen Media).
The plot subject matter is serious – a thirty year old woman, looking for herself and “going back to basics” is baited into a relationship with a sixteen year old boy. But the film doesn’t go into legal territory, and maintains a certain veneer of popularity with the style and pop background music. The credits say that the film was shot largely in upstate New York, where the legal age is 17; but there are Connecticut license plates shown throughout, and the age of consent in that state is indeed 16.
As the film opens, we see Leigh (Kristen Bell), becoming upset about her job as a reporter for the Associated Press in New York City, apparently covering crime. She is also in a problematic relationship with a male peer. One day, she cuts loose, gets on a train or bus going up the Hudson River, and winds up at her folks’ house. Her mother (Amy Madigan) is all into starting her new career teaching dance, but the parents both question why a 30-year-old needs to come home. At this point, Leigh’s behavior already seems a bit self-indulgent or self-pitying to me. Leigh soon takes a summer job as a lifeguard at a local pool. She learns he has to discipline younger kids, and that is OK. But she also meets the local teens and young men.
Some of the company would be appropriate. Todd (Martin Starr) is about her own age and shows some interest. But pretty soon Jason (David Lambert, who looks a little precocious for the part) has her attention. He says he is in special education because of ADD, and wants to quit school and go to Vermont and live free.
There are ways that plot threads in this movie close themselves. Leigh still says she is a reporter (even though she has been fired by email for splitting) and can expose people. The behavior is somewhat earthy: most of the male characters (including Jason) smoke cigarettes (that’s depressing) and sometimes weed. Leigh has brought her cat from the City (to the consternation of her parents), a sign she will not return. But the cat, when roaming, discovers the tragedy that leads to the denouement of the film, which is not all that convincing.
The official site is here.
Another legal story would have interested me.