Greener Grass

Review by Sophie Monks Kaufman @sopharsogood

Directed by

Dawn Luebbe Jocelyn DeBoer

Starring

Beck Bennett Dawn Luebbe Jocelyn DeBoer

Anticipation.

Jocelyn DeBoer and Dawn Luebbe are veterans of the comedy troupe, Upright Citizens Brigade.

Enjoyment.

A hypnotic watch, yet hard to pin down.

In Retrospect.

Too abstract for satire, too grounded for sci-fi – this is one strange world.

Suburban soccer moms get the Stepford Wives treatment courtesy of directors Jocelyn DeBoer and Dawn Luebbe.

There’s something strange about this sunny, seemingly perfect American suburb. Adults wear braces on their teeth, drive golf carts and wear co-ordinated outfits of pink, purple and blue. Written, directed by and starring Jocelyn DeBoer and Dawn Luebbe, Greener Grass sits somewhere between satire and surrealism.

The inciting incident comes as Jill (DeBoer) and Lisa (Luebbe) watch their children play soccer. After lamenting the murder of a local yoga teacher, Lisa admires Jill’s new baby. Eager to please, Jill impulsively hands over the baby as a gift.

The intrigue and motor of Greener Grass comes from the question of how much these serene automatons have in common with actual humans. While The Stepford Wives is an obvious source of comparison, in this suburb the pressure is less about gender conformity and more about having learned a pathological politeness while true feelings flail out of reach.

Jill has regrets about handing over her baby – an event which precipitates the collapse of her entire life – but is too polite to insist on its return, especially as Lisa acts offended whenever she broaches the subject.

An eerie and ever-present John Carpenter-esque electronic score by Samuel Nobles amps up the sense of alienation and melancholy, undercutting performances that are sincerely pitched in their acceptance of absurd goings on. There are no winks to camera, just people doing their best within a world where only surface communication flies, even when feverish eyes tell a different story.

DeBoer excels in the lead role, managing to deepen Jill’s mania though purely physical tells as her dialogue delivery remains consistently sweet and sympathetic. Humour and desperation stem from the same source in this stifling setting: everyone’s inability to say what they mean.

Published 21 Nov 2019

Tags: Dawn Luebbe Jocelyn DeBoer

Anticipation.

Jocelyn DeBoer and Dawn Luebbe are veterans of the comedy troupe, Upright Citizens Brigade.

Enjoyment.

A hypnotic watch, yet hard to pin down.

In Retrospect.

Too abstract for satire, too grounded for sci-fi – this is one strange world.

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