Revenge Is a Dish Best Served With Jane Fonda & Lily Tomlin
Mar 13, 2023
As far as we know, Grace and Frankie never planned to kill any boarish, horrid men in Grace and Frankie, but if four decades ago you found that 9 to 5 whet your appetite to witness Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin live out that particular fantasy—Moving On delivers.
While Claire (Fonda) and Evelyn (Tomlin) may start out the film as estranged former friends, it’s hard to ignore what a dynamic duo Fonda and Tomlin are, even when they’re at odds with each other. They gravitate towards each other naturally and, no matter who else they have to play off of, their best work exists when they’re together. To a certain extent, Moving On allows Fonda to play against type-casting: she’s still straight-laced and put-together, but she’s also coming unglued and taking high-stakes risks in the name of well-earned revenge.
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If Death at a Funeral taught me anything, it’s that funerals make the perfect backdrop for threats of murder and romantic revelations. Moving On may not be a comedy of errors, in the same way as either Death at a Funeral, but it does share similar tonal qualities with the dry, black humor, familial drama, and heightened emotions. All of which are elevated by the wry, irreverent catharsis built into the script and delivered so eloquently by Fonda and Tomlin.
Image via Roadside Attractions
RELATED: ‘Moving On’: Release Date, Cast, Filming Details, and Everything You Need to Know About Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin’s Next Comedy
Decades ago, Claire was assaulted by her college roommate Joyce’s husband, Howard (Malcolm McDowell), which was a secret that she was prepared to take to her grave, despite it permanently traumatizing her and wrecking her relationship with Ralph (Richard Roundtree), but when Joyce dies, she realizes it’s time to move on by killing him. Naturally, Evelyn has her own motivations to rid the world of Howard, which threaten to paint Joyce in a brand-new light in her family’s eyes, much to his chagrin.
Moving On’s director-screenwriter Paul Weitz crafts a very straightforward plot, which allows the weight and gravity of the story to settle squarely on the shoulders of viewers. Some critics and audiences may be quick to brand Moving On as a byproduct of a post-#MeToo world, but the motivations built into the script are a tale as old as time. Look at 9 to 5—women seeking revenge on scumbag men is the kind of power fantasy that puts butts in movie seats.
In the midst of the chaos to rid the world of another creepy man, Claire doesn’t lose sight of the fact that there are still good ones out there, like Ralph, and that sometimes letting go and moving on helps put things in perspective. The film gives equal weight to the idea of rekindling old love as it does the notion of rekindling an old friendship. Both are vital in the pursuit of moving on, and it helps to anchor the dark tint of the emotional baggage Claire has been saddled with.
Image via Roadside Attractions
With its title, Moving On telegraphs what its central theme is: the act of moving on. While Claire’s plot is fairly straightforward, in that she’s trying to move past this horrific trauma she endured, each of the film’s characters is “moving on” in some way, whether it’s moving beyond old fields, moving on to the next stage in life, or moving on to greener pastures. It’s the sort of timeless plot that can be found in any film, but it is made even more poignant when you have a cast comprised of more mature actors. The tragedy isn’t just that Claire endured this horrific assault, but that it has left a mark on her life up into her 80s. She can’t just move on without getting closure.
Moving On is yet another tour de force for Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin, who once again prove that they are a force to be reckoned with. To their credit, Fonda and Tomlin continue to be trailblazers for women (of all ages) as they surround themselves with projects that remind the world that women in their 80s are still funny, determined, sexy, and powerful—and it’s thrilling to see them reclaim these tropes that are often ascribed to much younger actresses. While the storyline doesn’t deliver anything new or revolutionary, it stands as a testament that this specific brand of revenge fantasy appeals at any stage of life.
Moving On is in theaters on March 17, 2023. Check out our interview with some of the cast back at TIFF last year down below:
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