Published: January 22, 2013 07:56AM
Updated: January 19, 2013 11:50PM
| courtesy Sundance Institute Kristen Bell plays Leigh, a woman who chucks her career to return home, in "The Lifeguard." The film appears in the U.S. Dramatic competition of the 2013 Sundance Film Festival.

"The Lifeguard"

U.S. Dramatic

*** (three stars)

High-school nostalgia meets early midlife crisis in writer-director Liz W. Garcia's drama. Leigh London (Kristen Bell) is dissatisfied with her job as an AP reporter, and an affair with her boss (Sendhil Ramamurthy), so she abandons New York for her parents' house in Connecticut. She hooks up with her old friends Todd (Martin Starr) and Mel (Mamie Gummer), and gets her old job as a lifeguard at a condo-complex pool. That's where she meets Jason (David Lambert), a disaffected student at Leigh's old high school (where Mel is now assistant principal) -- and soon they are engaged in hot sex in the pool's bathroom. Garcia's script has sharp dialogue, even if the plot points are telegraphed well in advance. Bell's performance, as a woman avoiding adulthood, is revelatory in its directness.

- Sean P. Means

"The Lifeguard" screens again: Sunday, 3 p.m., Salt Lake City Library; Monday, 8:30 p.m., The MARC Theatre, Park City; Thursday, 9 a.m., Temple Theatre, Park City; Friday, 3:15 p.m., Eccles Theatre, Park City.