Even female talents can’t save ‘Lifeguard’

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The Lifeguard

In “The Lifeguard,” Kristen Bell plays a woman who panics as the big 3-0 approaches, moves back to her hometown, and hangs out with her old high school friends. The movie’s being billed in some quarters as a comedy, which is a hell of a stretch given that the plot expands to take in statutory rape and teen suicide.

Writer-director Liz W. Garcia depicts the heroine’s quandary with a heavy hand that gets heavier as the movie goes on, and the nuances of Bell’s affair with a misfit 16-year-old named Jason (David Lambert, who’s 20 and looks it) are beyond the filmmaker’s skill set. The results are both ickily exploitive and emotionally overwrought, no mean feat. With Mamie Gummer, who’s the best thing in the movie.

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