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3.3 out of 5 stars
The Lifeguard
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24 of 25 people found the following review helpful
on August 4, 2013
Format: DVD
"Things happen, keep moving or die." Leigh (Bell) is a reporter working for a paper in New York. After writing an article she is passionate about she quits when it won't get published and ends up moving back home. While she is trying to make sense of her life she gets a job as a lifeguard and reconnects with her parents and her old friends. Leigh learns the meaning of 'you can't go home again'. There is a saying you can't judge a book by its cover, after watching this one it should also be applied to movies. Going off the cover I expected a nice light comedy with Kristin Bell playing her usual character. I got the exact opposite. The movie is a heavy drama with very real issues. After moving home she finds that her friends are not who they once were and neither are her parents. She begins a romance with an underage boy at the place where she works which has repercussions for everyone. This is nothing like I expected but I did really like it much more then I expected. Overall, a different movie and role for Bell but it works. Depressing but good. I say B+.
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22 of 24 people found the following review helpful
on August 25, 2013
Format: Amazon Instant Video
I must admit it took me a while to truly process this movie. I absolutely adore Kristen Bell, so I will pretty much watch anything she's in. I was also pleasantly surprised to see the guy who plays Brandon on the Fosters, which quickly became a favorite of mine. Anyway, when I watched this a couple of weeks ago, my conclusion was that the movie was okay. It left me feeling kind of sad and very confused, and I assumed that was due to flaws of the movie. Looking back now, I think that was kind of their intention. I think I was feeling a lot of what Lee felt. What I love about indie movies is that they are typically more unpredictable, awkward, messy and real. There's no glam. Things can be ugly. Some indie films take it too far and alienate a lot of people, which this film may do, but overall I feel it's an honest story of someone completely losing their sense of self, and in turn reverting back to what they know.

Also I think the issue of a romantic relationship between a 16 year old and a 29 year old should be addressed. I've read outlandish comments on IMDB and so on that this movie condones pedophilia, which is absolutely ridiculous. First of all, pedophilia is an attraction to prepubescent children, not adolescents. Physically, adolescents and adults are very much the same, it's simply a matter of mental capacity for good decision making and impulse control that makes it ethically questionable to engage in a sexual act. It isn't like Lee was sexually attracted to an 8 year old boy or something, so statutory rape, yes. Pedophilia, no. Also, while I absolutely wouldn't condone this type of thing happening in real life, I think cinematically, the emotional side of their relationship was very helpful to both of them for the time being.

Overall, I liked this movie, and wouldn't be opposed to watching it again, even though it does have some very heavy subject matter. Kristen Bell is an amazing actress and she showed a lot of depth in this.
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29 of 34 people found the following review helpful
on July 31, 2013
Format: Amazon Instant Video
I've got no experience with Veronica Mars, but I can see why people like Kristen Bell. She's real and relatable, as are all of the characters in this film.

At age 29, with her life in the city more disheartening and less complete than she ever expected, Kristen Bell's Leigh heads back home, where her two best friends (Mammie Gummer of The Good Wife and the familiar Martin Starr of Freaks and Geeks and about a million other comedies) are leading lives equally unperfected. During her aimless summer in her home town, she crosses paths with the local drop-outs, played sensitively and convincingly by a trio of young actors, including recently discovered teen actor Alex Shaffer of the Paul Giamatti film Win, Win, in a supporting role. Youthful indiscretions can't really cohabit with adult responsibilities, and the dramatic tension is ratcheted-up (if also resolved fairly easily) in sincere ways.

Nice production and a convincing story of early middle-age indecision with nuanced acting by a strong cast of recognizable faces adds up to a satisfying film.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
Format: Amazon Instant Video
This is an indie film about life without much plot. Leigh London (Kristen Bell) is an AP reporter who has become depressed with life. She wrote a story about a chained tiger cub living in the city apartment that dies. She sees herself in this role, as well as just about everyone else in the film fits the metaphor. People view themselves as developing while everyone else sees them as screw-ups.

Leigh moves back with her parents, and mom (Amy Madigan) would rather not have her there. She hangs out with old friends; Todd (Martin Starr) a gay art dealer and Mel (Mamie Gummer) who is now the vice principal. Mel's life is in a rut, her husband (Joshua Harto) doesn't fit in because he is too straight. Leigh becomes a lifeguard at the local apartment complex, however like the tiger, the title has a two-fold meaning.

The story slips into taboo areas such as smoking pot with minors...and having sex with them. There are lines that are crossed, i.e. "they are screw-ups" or the less family friendly phrase, but they don't see themselves as that because the transition is smooth and natural. The film is about how life and people are the same all over (except for Vermont).

Clearly this film is not for everyone. It opens like a Lifetime film with raindrops symbolizing sadness. It evolves into a film which would make you embarrassed to watch it with your kids. Indie lovers only, please.

Parental Guide: F-bomb, sex, male nudity. Drug use.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on July 28, 2014
Format: Amazon Instant Video
Insightful look at how indecision and career choices impact personal happiness, with Kristen Bell in the role of 29 year old Leigh, a feature writer based in New York. After a series of job related disappointments related to how her feature stories are edited and released, she packs it all up in a fit of frustration and leaves for the comfort of home with her skeptical and somewhat supportive parents in tow. I'm assuming most upwardly mobile young professionals wouldn't ditch it all due to one (large) project-based disappointment, and to me this is the only big flaw in the overall realism of the screenplay

Leigh's reintegration to her home, community, and friends goes well as long as it's based on parties and superficial pleasures. Her job as a club lifeguard isn't rewarding but it satisfies some inner need for Leigh to simplify. However, before long complications arise with her friends and she develops an inappropriate sexual relationship with a 16 year old boy, which although believable and predictable leads her to conflicted emotions about her role in his life, her choices, and whether or not this new path is constructive.

The writing and acting is solid if not spectacular and there are a few really embarrassing one liners, but over all The Lifeguard is well paced, emotionally involving, and a realistic portrayal of angst and indecision. The only acting casualty is Amy Madigan (Leigh's mother) who's saddled with an all-too-familiar role as an uncompromising middle age hard*ss with little to no subtlety. Her character(ization) is unnecessarily abrasive.

The Lifeguard successfully straddles the line between optimism and the depressing realism of a young lady stuck in neutral. Those expecting the usual bubbly, smiling Kristen Bell will be disappointed but her soul searching and angst ridden Leigh London is a dramatic high point.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Format: DVD
Reporter Leigh (Kristen Bell) leaves her life as journalist in New York City to go back home to Connecticut. This is due, in part, to the fact that her most recent journalist endeavour, which she was passionate about, will not be published. On returning home she gets a job as a lifeguard at her old high school. This job is not too taxing an affair, unless your day dreaming. While there she tries to reconnect with family and friends, and she does this to varying degrees of success, she also mulls over of her life. Leigh is at the cusp of turning 30, yet she begins to connect with group of troubled teens and one person in particular, instead of with her peers. Her interaction leads to smoking pot with them, and engaging in a dangerous sexual relationship with a 16-year-old.

Unfortunately this movie only received a very limited cinematic release, which I am sure did not help the film reach a wider audience. Then the film was released via video on demand. I got to see it via cable TV recently and I felt it wasn't bad indie production and good narrative. That said a number of film critics were less than impressed, and a critic at Variety magazine commented `people will be interested for any but prurient reasons', which I thought was tad harsh to say. Yes there is sexual content, but it was no more or less what you would see on a `Game of Thrones' episode. This film will not be to everyone's tastes, but for those people who like indie films this is worth a look.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on December 22, 2013
Format: DVD
Like most reviewing here I'm a fan of Kristen Bell and seeing her in that red bathing suit on the cover was enough to get my attention (the producers were very smart to use that picture). And yes, Ms. Bell looks wonderful in that bathing suit (most 30-year-old women who see this movie will feel like slitting their wrists when they see how good she looks in a one-piece). That about covers what I found good about the movie. I realized quickly that this was a low-budget indie film (how the hell did they manage to get a real movie star like Kristen Bell to sign on?) with a sophomoric piece of writing for a script. It probably sounded a lot better in the writer's head; alas he/she lacks the talent to really do the subject justice. The directing was okay, and the acting was really pretty good considering the script they had to work with. The camerawork was inconsistent however; several close-ups were too much so; I thought I was watching a TV network show. The characters were not very well-drawn, IMO. I thought they were immature and shallow in keeping with the writing as a whole. Not much happens other than the inexplicable suicide of a peripheral character. And, as another reviewer said the motivation for Leigh returning home was sketchy at best. All of this is typical of an indie film which is why they seldom make any money or any noise at award time. The worst thing for me was the unrealistic sexual relationship between Leigh and Jay. She's a beautiful 29-year-old professional woman and former HS valedictorian who could have any man she wanted, while he is an immature skate-boarding HS dropout!!! Really? You get the feeling this thing was written and produced by a former nerd who had (and still has) fantasies about bedding the HS prom queen. The big question for me is why Ms. Bell thought doing this movie was a good idea. Maybe she's not getting offers for "mature" roles from the big studios, who knows. Regardless, she deserves better. In conclusion, if you are a fan of Kristen Bell then by all means watch it just to see her; she's good in spite of the pathetic script. Otherwise, don't waste your time.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on June 21, 2014
Format: Amazon Instant VideoVerified Purchase
This is an off-beat film but not what one might expect from the cover picture. It's a drama, delving deeply into the raw emotions and messed up or at least terribly confused lives of most of the characters. Teens, 30-somethings, and the middle-aged all deal with issues with themselves and with one another. The characters are compelling and, despite the unusual nature of their problems, bring a ring of truth to their portrayals. Yes, it was a bit hard to watch at times because of the intense feelings presented, but it was hard NOT to watch as you come to care about the characters, no matter how unlike you they may be.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on June 1, 2014
Format: Amazon Instant VideoVerified Purchase
I found this movie surprisingly engaging. this almost 30 year old has a life crisis and finds herself physically involved with a young teenager. She knows it is joltingly wrong, yet she cannot stop herself from being involved with him. I really enjoyed the acting, the abundance of talent that is not well-recognized and the challenging story line. It is hard not to sympathize with Bell's character even though she is clearly doing something wrong. I would recommend this movie.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on April 7, 2014
Format: DVDVerified Purchase
Watched this movie with three friends and only one of them liked it. I personally loved it. Its A complicated midlife crisis movie with a great ending. Kristen Bell really can play any type of character in any type of movie.
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