The Lifeguard at the IMDb
Kristen Bell stars in the title role who, when we meet her is a journalist in New York. We know things aren’t going great as the film stock is washed out in blue tones. She reports a story of a man who kept a tiger in his apartment and it later died after trying to claw its way out. As a metaphor it is a bit blunt and soon Kristen has fled the pressures of the city and headed home to her parents in Connecticut.
We learn that she’s near 30 and although young for a mid-life crisis she and her parents both feel she has failed up to her early promise when she was top of her class. She hooks up with some old friends including a fey man with a beard who has yet to come out as being gay and another who is trying to get pregnant and live the conventional life she feels is predestined to her.
Bell gets a job at an apartment complex pool as the lifeguard and soon makes friends with a bunch of teenagers including the janitor’s hot teenage son. Her two groups of friends start to mix and smoke pot and stay out late much to the annoyance of her parents who don’t really want her moving back in, especially as she’s brought the cat.
After a run in with some young kids at the pool and with the cops who are bullying her skater pals Bell starts to reassess her life and falls into bed with her teenage chum. This sets her at odds with her wannabe pregnant friend who can’t even get her husband to slap his dick across her face. As the affair becomes public and the gay friend gets bolder a tragedy tells everyone that it’s time to get on with their lives and stop sitting about smoking hash and listening to indie music.
This ‘slice of life’ effort wasn’t really worth the effort. The usually attractive Bell spends most of this film with a scowl on her face and her listless existence is more tiresome than thoughtful. The film tries to have a melancholy air with a slow dirge soundtrack and lots of ponderous scenes of kids hanging about or slow-mo scenes in the pool. I appreciate these are rudderless people looking for a meaning to their existence but they just come across as dull and needy.
Bell does OK holding the whole thing together but she’s not that likeable and her motivations appear totally selfish throughout. The running theme of being trapped and needing direction is life is hardly going to excite the audience and at no point did I feel invested in any of the characters. She may feel she is daring taking a part where she has an affair with a teenager but it was low key stuff and I liked when the boy’s Dad, when confronted with the horror, basically said ‘that’s my boy’!
The big turning point was a bit of a surprise but the character involved wasn’t one we had invested much in and although a catalyst for change it seemed unlikely given what had gone before. There were a couple of sex scenes but they were modestly played with the only nudity some poor bloke who got his shorts dropped.
The needy and demanding people shown in this film could easily be categorised as ‘first world problems’ with the availability of beer their most pressing concern. The general gloomy mood of the film is not one that would engage the viewer and when Bell makes her inevitable return to the big city we have to wonder if her trip was really worth the bother.
THE Tag Line : Lifeguard Needs Saving! 56%