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June Squibb is a hoot in the enjoyable Thelma

In his feature debut, "Thelma," writer and director Josh Margolin draws inspiration from his life to craft a compelling narrative. Presented by Magnolia Pictures, this action comedy will undoubtedly capture the hearts of cinephiles, offering veteran Oscar®️ nominee June Squibb her first leading role. Additionally, audiences will be able to see the legendary Richard Roundtree grace the screen one final time.

Squibb portrays Thelma Post, a spirited 93-year-old grandmother who falls victim to a phone scam orchestrated by an individual impersonating her grandson Daniel (Fred Hechinger). Determined to seek justice despite objections from her daughter Gail (Parker Posey), son-in-law Alan (Clark Gregg), and real grandson Danny, Thelma embarks on a daring journey across Los Angeles. Accompanied by her aging friend Ben (Roundtree) and his motorized scooter, she is resolute in reclaiming what was wrongfully taken from her.

June Squibb is a familiar face to the general audience, although her name may need to be more well-known. It was very satisfying to see her talents showcased in "Thelma." A close friend, who has extensive experience as a travel nurse working with the elderly, has often expressed a desire to write a film script set in a nursing home or focused on a protagonist in their golden years.

In his directorial debut, Josh Margolin employs a nuanced and artful approach, weaving together multiple layers to craft a compelling feature. One particularly praiseworthy aspect is Margolin's skillful portrayal of Thelma's character arc. He meticulously captures her journey from the initial introduction, showcasing her life and relationships, to the poignant moment when her grandson Daniel introduces her to the world of computer and email usage. This moment serves as a heartwarming and pivotal moment in the film.

Furthermore, Margolin expertly delves into the challenges and complexities faced by Thelma as she becomes the unfortunate victim of nefarious online criminals perpetrating the grandparent scam for monetary gain. This careful attention to detail illuminates such exploitation's emotional and psychological impact, adding depth and resonance to the narrative.

However, the film finds its footing when Thelma connects with Richard Roundtree's character of Ben, and the two set out on their journey to recover her stolen funds. Roundtree and Squibb have an organic chemistry, and one can't help but get misty-eyed at Roundtree's last lead performance. I also commend Margolin for the way he sets up the humor. The jokes for Squibb do involve the standard old-age quips (i.e., thinking you know someone, discovering the internet, etc.), but we don't get moments of using Mary Jane for the sake of a laugh.

"Thelma" effectively showcases a debut director's ability to draw out outstanding performances from the cast and provide well-deserved recognition to a seasoned actress.

Final Grade : B+

"Thelma" is in theaters today


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