The Grandmothers, a segment appearing under the eponymous novella by Doris Lessing, has an unconventional story. Two best friends Roz and Lil are infatuated with one another's son. I have not read the novella to comment about the content. When Anne Fontaine adapts it to the screen, the shock factor and the unconventionality is pumped by many notches for multiple reasons. The age disparity raises both curiosity and eyebrows. Anne Fontaine has a cast featuring prominent names like Robin Wright and Naomi Watts. Will this be a skin fest in the guise of a drama? Will be a tragedy or a make-believe?
When you break down the movie, you will find friendship as the core theme. Roz(Robin Wright) and Liz(Naomi Watts) live in New South Wales, and they have known each other since childhood. Even after their marriage, they have stayed as neighbors. Both of them have been there for each other in every phase of life even when their partners drift away. This dependency makes others suspect them to be lesbians. The bonding factor is not sexual attractor but a strange mix of love, trust compassion, and understanding. We are intrigued by this bond between Roz and Lil.
Anne Fontaine approaches the subject delicately. The movie can quickly disintegrate into a tale of lust with an abundant display of skin. After all, the story is set in New South Wales right next to a fantastic beach. Anne Fontaine delves into the aspect of lust and yearning, but she emphasizes on the mental compatibility and need for companionship. The sensitive handling of the subject makes this a watchable drama. The camera captures the beauty of the beach and a lot of fantastic shots of floating platform. The floating platform is sometimes set against the water using an overhead shot. At other times, it is set against the horizon. All the lead characters - Robin Wright, Naomi Watts, Xavier Samuel and James Frecheville - have beautiful bodies. They are flaunting it all the time. The way they are portrayed by the director combined with spirited performance make us overlook the factor and concentrate on the story unfolding in front of us.
The theme is hard to digest. Although it is a good drama, it is not everyone's cup of tea. Go for it if you are sure not to flinch or wince.