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Grass, Anyone?

Greener Grass, dir. Jocelyn DeBeer, Dawn Luebbe, 2019

Set in the syrupy world of soccer moms, everyone in this turgid town wears braces for some reason and what this is a metaphor for is anyone’s guess: is everyone in an enclosure of sorts, trapped in this white picket-fence, swimming pool, barbeque and green grass hell? Do the braces imply that our mouths, our tongues are constrained by the dictates of suburban society, hampering our ability to ever speak the truth, say what’s on our mind? Weird. And I never really worked it out by the time the end credits began to mercifully roll.

The film opens with an arresting premise: Lisa suddenly realises her friend Gill (or is it the other way round?) has had a baby … as in, bang, one day she is just there, with a new baby. Lisa expresses surprise and interest and so Gill simply pipes up and says, “Wait, Lisa, do you want it?” And promptly gives the baby away. Just like that. So the baby goes to live with Lisa and family. From here I was hoping for an off-beat absurdist comedy with an edgy social commentary brimming beneath it, but what followed was a loosely strung series of aimless and soon-very-tired vignettes: some psychotic transvestite is stalking the town; a kid keels over, falls into the pool and emerges as a Golden Retriever; one of the dads forms an obsession with drinking swimming pool water; one of the moms decides she’s pregnant, stuffs a soccer ball up her shirt and voila, everyone goes about congratulating her when she subsequently gives birth … to the soccer ball. They give it a name, I seem to recall. Something else happens, something vaguely menacing, and eventually one of the protagonists snaps her braces with a pair of pliers in a truly toe-curdling moment and this somehow gives her sudden and profound insights into life and “what she needs to do”.

Oh wait! Perhaps “Greener Grass” is a not-so oblique reference to America’s recent legalisation of pot? Maybe everyone was simply as high as a kite and just hallucinating all of this? Perhaps they needed to be to make this movie?


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