Friday, February 21, 2020

Greener Grass

Greener Grass
Jocelyn DeBoer, Dawn Luebbe

Jill (Jocelyn DeBoer) is happily married to her husband Nick (Beck Bennett) and is best friends with Lisa (Dawn Lubbe). While they are attending their children's soccer game, Lisa takes a liking to Jill’s baby. Lisa gives Jill the baby to keep and begins a spiraling deconstruction of her identity that will lead to everything she was being taken away from her.

At a surface glance, Greener Grass feels like a feature-length version of the short films that Adult Swim often airs, or, if you’re feeling cruel, a really long Skittles commercial. The film posits a nonsense world where off-kilter people and things just exist without explanation and the denizens (mostly) just accept this weirdo life as it comes to them. This bright and airy existence floats over an underside that is much more sinister and only half-seen. Its menace bleeds through, especially as the story reaches the closest approximation is has to a climax.

I hope you like teeth and mouths and spit and needlenose pliers in your movies.
Visually the film is bright with mostly sunlit scenes and bold oversaturated colors. The clothing and interiors have a distinct mid-1980’s vibe to them. All of our characters are affluent and well-conditioned to conform. Everyone seems to be very wary of falling out of step with their friends and neighbors. The twist is, they are all terrible at keeping up the status quo. Everyone seems prone to just make decisions on a momentary whim, none more so than Jill who just gives away her infant daughter to her friend in the opening scene. To be fair, It would be hard not to just act without thinking in a world where children turn into dogs, everyone wears braces, and a murderous grocery store bagger is on the loose.

The overwhelming interpersonal competitions and the sunlit world of Greener Grass creates a suffocating pressure and the majority of the film is watching that pressure ultimately crack Jill wide-open, drive her to extremes, and in a final triumph of true horror, not allow her to escape. If I had to compare this film to any other it most reminds me of Midsommar (2019) with its oppressive brightness, building dread, and distrust of a community that ultimately crushes our hero and subsumes her into the collective. The main difference is that one has people getting their head smushed in with a hammer and the other has a man obsessed with drinking pool water.
Honestly, this movie would not be a terrible sequel to The Foot Fist Way (2006)
The most difficult element of Greener Grass as a viewer is trying to become invested in the plot or any of the primary characters when their world defies applying any real sense or logic to it. Eventually, things take shape as we watch everything Jill has stripped away from her over the course of the movie, but more often than not it is her own doing, she decides to give her baby away on a whim, she decides to divorce her husband at the merest mention of it from a friend, she abandons her entire identity when an angry woman claims it. From all this comes a harrowing darkness in the third act that leads up directly back into a similar scene that started the film. Jill has been through hell and looks it, but her world has not changed one bit.

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