The Lifeguard

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The Lifeguard
The lifeguard film.jpg
movie poster
Directed byLiz W. Garcia
Produced byLiz W. Garcia
Milan Chakraborty
Joshua Harto
Mike Landry
Ed McWilliams
Carlos Velazquez
Written byLiz W. Garcia
StarringKristen Bell
David Lambert
Music byFred Avril
CinematographyJohn Peters
Edited byJennifer Davidoff Cook
Elizabeth Kling
Attic Light Films
C Plus Pictures
La Pistola
Productivity Media
Wild Invention
Distributed byFocus World
Screen Media Films
Release date
  • July 30, 2013 (2013-07-30) (VOD)
  • August 30, 2013 (2013-08-30)
Running time
98 minutes
CountryUnited States

The Lifeguard is a 2013 American drama produced, written, and directed by Liz W. Garcia, and starring Kristen Bell and David Lambert. The film was released via video on demand on July 30, 2013, and received a limited release in theaters on August 30.[1]


Leigh London is a talented writer living in New York City with a job as a journalist and a relationship with her engaged boss. At the beginning of the story, Leigh must accept the end of her love affair and is tasked with reporting the story of a tiger cub who was kept tied up as a pet in someone's home until it died. To Leigh's astonishment the piece isn't run as serious news, and she breaks down, arguing with her boss and ex-lover. Now entirely disillusioned with her life in the city, she decides to leave—without notifying her job—and return to her hometown. When she arrives at home Leigh's mother questions her sudden return, meanwhile her father is delighted to see her, especially after Leigh announces her decision to stay indefinitely. She becomes reacquainted with two of her former friends, art appraiser, Todd, and vice principal, Mel. While having some drinks with them, she announces that she's taken up her high school job as the community pool lifeguard, where she meets the maintenance man's son, Little Jason.

Over the next few weeks, she becomes friends with Jason and his best friend, Matt, and encourages wild behavior on her two high school friends, hanging out with the teens and smoking pot. Todd happily goes along with Leigh's behavior; while Mel does too, it takes its toll on her relationship with her husband as they are trying to conceive a baby. Leigh begins to spend a lot more time with Jason, and soon she realizes her attraction to him and vice versa. One night, after hanging out at the pool after hours with their friends, Leigh goes to the bathroom/changing room where Jason follows her and they kiss. The kiss quickly escalates into sex, and this starts a relationship between the two that continues over the summer, leading to frequent sexual encounters. One day while the two are having sex in bed, Leigh realizes she's falling in love with Jason and talks him into staying around longer instead of moving to Vermont with Matt as he had planned. Matt has been kicked out by his mother and has made it clear that he is desperate to leave town.

After Jason postpones the Vermont plans, Matt becomes very disheartened. Meanwhile, Mel's husband becomes increasingly frustrated with her "carefree" behavior. While at the pool one morning, Todd discovers Leigh and Jason kissing but doesn't say anything. Leigh's mother asked her to move out as she isn't the only one trying to get their life in order; Leigh stays with Jason. Her cat goes missing in the process. Todd lets it slip to Mel that Leigh is staying at Jason's and Mel discovers the relationship between the two, to her horror. She approaches Leigh in anger and plans to inform Jason's father. Leigh and Jason then go searching for her cat, only to discover Matt has committed suicide by hanging himself from a tree in the woods. Matt repeatedly mentions throughout the film that he hates life in the town and is desperate to get to Vermont. It seems Jason's postponement was his last bit of hope broken.

This takes its toll on Jason very hard and he is deeply distraught. Leigh takes the responsibility to inform Matt's mother, who is also heartbroken at the news. Leigh consoles her until her relatives arrive and then later finds her missing cat hiding near her parents' house. At the funeral, she makes her peace with Mel and goes to meet Jason one last time before they both leave. They share an emotional hug, both showing a strong affection for one another. She gives him $1,000 she won from a journalist prize, and walks away with tears in her eyes knowing the feelings she has for Jason could never truly be acted upon. The final scene ends with a postcard from Jason stating he still thinks about her a lot and Matt also.[2]



Principal photography began in Sewickley, Pennsylvania, on July 9, 2012, and continued in the Pittsburgh metropolitan area through August 10.[3] A suburban Fox Chapel home was used for most interior shots.[4] The communities of Aleppo, Edgeworth and Leetsdale were also considered as locations.[5]


The film competed at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival for Best Dramatic Film.[6]

Critical reception[edit]

After its premiere at Sundance, The Lifeguard received generally unfavorable reviews. On Rotten Tomatoes the film has an approval rating of 16% based on reviews from 31 critics.[7]

Peter Debruge of Variety stated: "Drowning in self-pity is about as fun to watch as it sounds, which will mean difficulty getting people interested for any but prurient reasons."[8] Justin Lowe of The Hollywood Reporter: "Not even a checklist of indie film attributes can inject a sense of originality into this familiar narrative."[9] Jordan Hoffman of gave the film a 2.7/10 and stated: "The Lifeguard is a painfully dull (alleged) drama utterly lacking in originality or self-awareness."[10]


  1. ^ Galuppo, Mia (July 8, 2013). "'The Lifeguard' Trailer: Kristen Bell Moves Back Home". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved July 9, 2013.
  2. ^ Fleming, Mike (July 17, 2012). "Kristen Bell To Star In 'The Lifeguard'". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved July 18, 2012.
  3. ^ Tady, Scott (July 10, 2012). "'Lifeguard' movie shoots in Sewickley". Beaver County Times. Retrieved July 18, 2012.
  4. ^ Neil, Maggie (July 31, 2013). "Fox Chapel family gets a taste of the film world". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved July 31, 2013.
  5. ^ Cherry, Bobby (July 10, 2012). "Kristen Bell filming 'Lifeguard' in the Sewickley area". Sewickley Herald/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. Retrieved July 30, 2013.
  6. ^ "Sundance 2013 Unveils U.S., World Cinema And Docu Slate". Deadline Hollywood. November 28, 2012. Retrieved December 14, 2012.
  7. ^ "The Lifeguard (2013)". Rotten Tomatoes.
  8. ^ Debruge, Peter (January 23, 2013). "Review: "The Lifeguard"". Variety. Retrieved August 1, 2013.
  9. ^ Lowe, Justin (January 20, 2013). "The Lifeguard: Sundance Review". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved August 1, 2013.
  10. ^ Hoffman, Jordan (January 19, 2013). "Review: 'The Lifeguard'". Retrieved August 1, 2013.

External links[edit]