Greener Grass (2019)

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Image via miff.com.au

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What a delight this wacky film is, steeped in saturated pastels and sharp, contemporary satire.

Writer/directors Jocelyn DeBoer and Dawn Luebbe star as Jill and Lisa. They have perfect homes and perfect children who play soccer and learn an instrument. Jill’s son Julian  (Julian Hilliard) has even gotten into the accelerated Rocket Math program, much to Lisa’s chagrin. Their school teacher, Miss Human (D’Arcy Carden) teaches them about the challenges of the pioneers by exploring the most common causes of death. A TV ad extols baby food “prechewed by real mothers.”

When Lisa admires Jill’s baby, Maddison, Jill, eager to be a good friend, offers her to Lisa, who readily accepts. And so goes the perfectly manicured world of these real-life, middle-class Barbie and Ken dolls. For Jill, though, everything starts to slowly fall apart as she realises that her husband Nick (Beck Bennett) and son Julian aren’t living up to her dreams. And meanwhile, someone is stalking her and her perfect existence.

You never really know where this film is going as its broad strokes and absurdist humour take you on somewhat of a narrative rollercoaster. The characters who surround Jill seem like denizens of a Donald Trump world, where truth is what you say it is, despite all evidence to the contrary. I would need to watch it again to pick up all of the visual gags and subtext of the mostly peripheral information.

Carden is a treat for all lovers of her role as Janet in The Good Place and you feel that Miss Human and Janet might get along just fine. DeBoer and Luebbe are the stars, though, and splendidly dominate every scene that they are in. A special mention to Mary Holland as the very wronged Kim Ann.

I can imagine this will be a polarising movie as you have to be prepared to go along for the ride. The characters seem to have no depth and to be as plastic as their flower beds but their likeness to those who support a ridiculous, populist leadership, that has spilled from the US to the UK and Australia, is all too real, with its obsession with image and whiteness and appropriation, with perfection and conformity, greed and dominance. “I’m on the news too!”


Have you seen this film? Did you love it or hate it? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

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