2012 / Director. Liz W Garcia.
Most of the reviews I have read for THE LIFEGUARD have been negative, bordering on scathing. I've read a whole lot of wanky, self-righteous bullshit and so I'm going to weigh in with a positive review. Not to go against the grain but because I took a lot away from this film. To start with it is a very misleading DVD cover... or at least I felt mislead. It presents itself as a comedy about self discovery and invigoration and while those concepts are prominent, the film goes a lot deeper into taboo areas that many people will reject. Kristen Bell plays a woman about to turn 30 who becomes fed up with the ugliness of city life and moves back to her hometown for a fresh start. She finds company in a group of teenage outcasts and begins to relive her teenage years. In doing so she indadvertedly drags her friends down with her and crosses all sorts of lines of morality. There's no question that the overall story arch is predictable and somewhat contrived, but the dramatic hurdles it takes from A to B are good. I did watch it with my teenage daughter and will warn you right now that most parents will not be comfortable doing that. The sex is explicit, the themes are heavy and the storyline is at times challenging... especially for a teenage mind. But I do think it's an important film for teens to see. I did struggle with a lot of the morally questionable behaviour of adults in THE LIFEGUARD and became insanely frustrated by it. The film is full of awful people doing awful things without very much redemption but it's that irritation towards them that struck a chord with me. I like to connect emotionally with a film, regardless of the type of emotion. Good performances, excellent cinematography and a wonderful soundtrack contribute to a solid little drama that happens to have flecks of comedy throughout. Not everyone's cup of tea, though.