I wish they hadn't decided to make a "movie" out of the wonderful play Jane Wagner wrote for her friend Lily Tomlin. I wish they had just set the camera in the cheap seats, turned it on and said, "OK, Lily, you can start now. We're going for coffee. Turn it off when you're done."
But Noooo-ooooooo. A "movie," complete to jump cuts, "special effects," costumes, coy filmic conceits like split screens, snappy editing, all of which simply get in the way of the Tomlin genius.
Cut the stuff! Shaddup with the tricks! Let her work.
And when she works, she's sublime. The core of the film, which opens today at the Senator, is a long, bittersweet performance piece in which Tomlin creates not just a character but a whole world: She's a young woman on the cusp of liberation in the late '60s, entering into a marriage of equals with a man she loves and respects and the two of them are about to remake the system; then she's a contented housewife, watching her boys grow, nurturing her husband's career, only secretly bitter about the way she's had to sidetrack hers; and then she's the bitter, betrayed divorcee, left to ponder a liberation stolen from her.