The Lifeguard: movie review

So entrenched is the notion that turning 30 is the new life-altering threshold that such crises hardly seem to need plausible narrative cause anymore. In writer-director Liz W. Garcia’s debut, her heroine, Leigh (Kristen Bell), relinquishes her full-time gig as an Associated Press reporter and flees New York because her fuck-buddy editor has become engaged and the metaphorical implications of an assignment—a wild tiger confined to a tiny apartment—prove way too self-indulgently relatable. So the onetime valedictorian moves back into her parents’ house in Ridgefield, Connecticut, retaking her old job as lifeguard at a local pool and reconnecting with high-school buddies (Mamie Gummer and Martin Starr) who have issues of their own (marital stress, closeted gayness, etc).

Filthy with enough indie-pop music cues to make Zach Braff blush, The Lifeguard is somewhat enlivened when Leigh embarks on an affair with a 16-year-old (David Lambert), whose Jonas-grade gorgeousness makes him unconvincing as a bad-boy screwup but quite persuasive as a common-sense–conquering colt. Otherwise, this drama is as listless and self-regarding as its protagonist, flitting among underdeveloped characters and subplots and indulging in rote emo shots by the pool, yet never figuring out how to dive into the deep end.

Follow Eric Hynes on Twitter: @eshynes

Release details

Duration: 98 mins

Cast and crew

Director: Liz W Garcia
Screenwriter: Liz W Garcia
Cast: Kristen Bell
John Finn
Lisa Ann Goldsmith
Mamie Gummer
David Lambert
Martin Starr
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