Movie review: “The Lifeguard” drowns in indie clichés

By Columbus Alive
From the August 29, 2013 edition

I’ve been in love with eminently lovable actress Kristen Bell since “Veronica Mars” and loved her scene-stealing bitch turn in “Forgetting Sarah Marshall,” but she’s had a lot less luck with leading film roles. A lot.

“The Lifeguard” is a low-key indie that would be tough to pull off for an experienced director. For first-timer Liz W. Garcia, it is apparently impossible.

Bell plays Leigh, a woman approaching 30 who decides to leave her job as a newspaper reporter in New York to return to her Connecticut hometown to find happiness again.

Leigh moves back in with her parents, works as a lifeguard at a condo and ends up in a relationship with a 16-year-old boy that makes things uncomfortable.

Garcia is, it seems, not much for character development. Leigh’s decision to leave NYC is set up by her making frowny faces in an opening montage. She’s back home before the opening credits.

The underage relationship is also something that requires a deft touch, but it seems to just be a consequence of Leigh’s return to the carefree days of her youth.

Bell shows an emotional range that deserves a better script, as she seems to have put more thought into Leigh than the script does.

I think it set out to be a sort of “Garden State” with a female lead, but it succumbs to a laughable number of indie clichés. This “Lifeguard” can’t swim.