INSIDE OUT ’15: Festival opener ‘Grandma’ shows us how feminism is done

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GRANDMA opens the 25th annual Inside Out Film Festival in Toronto on May 21, 2015 at 8 p.m. at TIFF Bell Lightbox.

When Elle’s (Lily Tomlin) granddaughter Sage (Julia Garner) shows up in desperate need of money, the two set off to ask the few people Elle hasn’t alienated over the course of her life for help.

Grandma is a rare film that manages to effortlessly balance the highbrow with lowbrow in a way that most can only dream of. The film features plenty of crude jokes courtesy of Tomlin’s trash talking grandma, and its humour has something for everyone, ranging from slapstick worthy of the Three Stooges to creative verbal insults.

This is also film that rewards those with an academic background, especially those versed in feminist theory. It name drops important feminist writers such as Simone de Beauvoir and Betty Friedan, including subtle jokes for those in the know. But what Grandma also successfully manages to do is not alienate those who have never read The Feminist Mystique or The Second Sex.

The feminist politics and references are sprinkled throughout the film like the Easter eggs big blockbusters have become so fond of, present for those who are interested in such things, but not detracting from the enjoyment of the film if you miss them. It also serves as an entry point for people not versed in feminist theory who might be interested in being educated in the matter, especially through the character of Sage.

In the end, Grandma is an entertaining film and a shining example of feminism done right, extolling its virtues, but never getting up on a soapbox and preaching conversion. And it’s wrapped up in the appealing package of a trash-talking grandma trying to help her granddaughter.

Amanda is covering the 2015 Inside Out Festival live from Toronto. For more coverage of the festival, click here.

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