The Great Lillian Hall (2024)

The Great Lillian Hall (2024)

PG-13

hbo max

A powerful showcase for Jessica Lange, this drama is both an ode to theater and a heartbreaking depiction of dementia

7.2

Movie

United States of America
English
Drama
2024
MICHAEL CRISTOFER
Allison Mackie, Blaque Fowler, Bryan McClure
111 min

TLDR

It’s almost like watching a modernized take on All About Eve, except more dramatic than funny.

What it's about

While preparing to mount a play on Broadway, the revered Lillian Hall (Jessica Lange) finds it difficult to remember her lines, worrying her colleagues, her daughter Margaret (Lily Rabe), and her assistant, Edith (Kathy Bates).

The take

The Great Lillian Hall doesn’t do anything particularly great to a familiar premise, but it’s still worth watching for the knockout performances. There’s Lange, whose dementia both complicates her desire to mount one last performance and resurfaces her guilt for being an absent mother. There’s Bates, who offers both sympathy and tough love. And then there’s Rabe, who’s gut-punching as the pained daughter crawling her way into her mother’s stiff arms. Everything else about the film is not as noteworthy as it drags the film for way longer than it should be. But that trifecta of performances makes it all worthwhile.

What stands out

Perhaps Lange’s love letter to acting cuts as deep as it does because she’s been in the industry for so long, and in that time has delivered some of the most memorable turns in Hollywood history.

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