Los Angeles Times

By Gary Goldstein
The Lifeguard is a watchable, emotionally redolent trip down one woman's memory lane.
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New York Daily News

By Joe Neumaier
The Lifeguard is one of those deceptive movies that, to its credit, winds up being about more than just an easy-to-describe tagline. In this case, that line would be: “Woman goes back to hometown, sleeps with high school boy.”
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The Dissolve

By Mike D'Angelo
Bell is too inherently sympathetic to turn Leigh into a credibly flawed protagonist, and first-time writer-director Liz W. Garcia seems more interested in indulging the fantasy of the jailbait fling than in seriously interrogating her heroine’s psyche.
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By Sheila O'Malley
It's not the most original of concepts, and writer-director Liz W. Garcia struggles with the tone throughout, but The Lifeguard is often saved by Kristen Bell's sensitive and complex performance.
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The A.V. Club

By Ignatiy Vishnevetsky
Like its lead character, The Lifeguard is stuck in a rut. After establishing Bell’s frustration within the first five minutes, the movie continually reiterates it.
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The New York Times

By Nicolas Rapold
This directorial debut by Liz W. Garcia, a writer for television, bears some echoes of its creator’s origins, going from deft to trite in its drama and setting up character arcs that feel sappily resolved within its feature length.
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Boston Globe

By Ty Burr
Writer-director Liz W. Garcia depicts Leigh’s quandary with a heavy hand that gets heavier as the movie goes on, ending with one of those portentous freeze-frames that worked in “The 400 Blows” and never since.
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The Hollywood Reporter

By Justin Lowe
Surprisingly for a writer turned director, the most evident shortcomings with Garcia’s feature originate with the script. With barely any backstory to support them, the characters consistently appear to lack the motivations necessary for their actions.
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By Peter Debruge
Lambert brings a forlorn dimension to his seductive young role, but Bell never really convinces as the older woman. Despite flirting with controversy, the actress seems reluctant to plunge fully into potential unlikability, nor does the film quite give her the chance.
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Village Voice

By Ernest Hardy
From concept to execution to tone, writer-director Liz W. Garcia's The Lifeguard is a lifeless misfire.
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34 out of 100
Generally unfavorable reviews
Metascore® based on all critic reviews. Scores range from 0 to 100, with higher scores indicating more favorable reviews.