In the most unique comedy of the year, Greener Grass takes the viewer into the heart of a demented yet timeless suburbia where perfection is idealized but never truly attained. The film follows the story of Jill (Jocelyn DeBoer) and Lisa (Dawn Luebbe), two soccer moms and best friends that struggle to keep up with the competitive middle-class atmosphere. Though both women are married with children and live in beautiful homes, they find themselves caught up in a world where everyone believes that they can do better.
Written and directed by Jocelyn DeBoer and Dawn Luebbe, Greener Grass is a wild comedy with the visual sensibilities of Wes Anderson and the quirkiness of David Lynch. Set in an otherworldly vision of suburbia where all the women where braces and everyone dresses in pastel colours, DeBoer and Luebbe have created a world that twists itself into knots repeatedly. Through its willingness to dive into the bizarre, the film presents a number of stereotypical storylines in the most atypical of ways. (For example, in a different twist on grieving the loss of a child, Jill struggles emotionally after she randomly gives her new baby to her friend simply because she doesn’t have one.) In Greener Grass, multiple issues ranging from coming-of-age to stalking to midlife crises all find themselves onscreen yet upended in bizarre (and often hilarious) means.
This dream-like depiction of suburban life highlights what happens when no one is satisfied with the things that they have been blessed with. Though Jill and her husband Nick (Beck Bennett) love their son, they feel that he doesn’t live up to proper standards. Frustrated by her sex-life with her husband, best-friend Lisa yearns for Nick. (In fact, recognizing that her own life is lacking, one character is even interested in becoming one of her acquaintances.) In this world, every character is dissatisfied with their circumstances and are looking over their shoulder to find something else. However, while those around her attempt to manipulate Jill into conforming to their ideals, Jill finds herself torn between society’s standards and her own self-acceptance. In doing so, Greener Grass highlights the damage that can be done to relationships when someone becomes obsessed with their materialistic or selfish heart. While it has been said that ‘no one can serve two masters’, this is world has only one: “more”. Here, happiness comes when you have what the other person has, no matter the toll it takes on your family or your soul.
In the end, Greener Grass is a surprisingly smart comedy that revels in its bizarre sensibilities. Smartly written by DeBoer and Luebbe and visually gorgeous in its colour coordinated world, the film is absolutely self-aware and knows what it wants to say from the outset.
Greener Grass opens at the TIFF Bell Lightbox on Friday, October 18th, 2019.