Buried Credits, a column that deep dives into the IMDB pages of favorite actors, directors, and writers to find their lost, forgotten, or unknown film and TV credits, continues this week with works featuring Tessa Thompson.
Grantham & Rose (2014)
Directed by Kristin Hanggi
Written by Ryan Spahn
Grantham & Rose is your classic road trip movie about an old woman named, Rose (The Jeffersons‘ Marla Gibbs), busting a teenager, named Grantham (Jake T. Austin), out of juvie, for a drive to Atlanta, Georgia, for reasons her own. Yep, typical, but not entirely original. I feel like that’s where my feelings about this movie run overall, in-between and inconclusive. The acting isn’t bad but until Tessa Thompson’s Wallis joins the duo, at a roadside convenience store, I didn’t understand the title characters’ relationship, maybe any more than they did, and it brings an aloofness to the whole proceedings. It’s not clear why Rose picked Grantham over all the other boys to go on this adventure (his blue hair?). When an explanation does come, much further into the film, it’s still a little hairy.
To the end, I’m left uncertain who they were to each other. I almost thought Rose had died, the way the film jumps over good-byes to leave Grantham and Wallis on their own. There were moments of warmth between them, sure, but then one would snap at the other and Grantham would make an exit. That he usually proceeds to come back to Rose, on the lam without money, seems self-explanatory, more than emotional.
In many ways I wish the film had been titled Grantham & Wallis. Or Wallis & Rose! That was the relationship I found the most interesting. From the second Rose meets the girl it’s a one-sided woman against woman attack. She constantly treats Wallis as a threat or corruptive force to Grantham, when how vanilla he is gets left unsaid. One of the smartest moves the movie makes is to never announce what crimes he committed, throwing attention to the worst assumptions made against kids in his situation. That’s not the kid we meet in Grantham, nor Wallis, but it’s uncomfortable how much Rose verbally attacks her, before she can do anything wrong. Wallis never apologizes but she takes a lot of the criticism, too, giving the impression she’s heard it before and grown used to such comments. It’s not right.
Wallis is always the one to embrace Rose’s schemes, whether dancing in an attempt to make the hotel attendant smile, or breaking into Rose’s old home. I’m not saying Grantham is wrong not to join in but these are the bonding moments of road trip movies, and Wallis isn’t the one Rose wants to bond with.
Verdict: Not sure
Thompson’s Wallis is the glue that holds this movie together. Without her, maybe Grantham and Rose make sense apart, but I’m not sure that they make sense as a unit.
Check back tomorrow as we close off the week with Tessa Thompson’s performance as a woman living a double life.