“Lady Bird” Movie Review

We’ve all been here in this position before. Whether we want to admit it or not. And A24 has come in to show us that with proof in spades. This indie coming-of-age comedy-drama premiered at the Telluride Film Festival on September 4th, 2017. Following a standing ovation at a subsequent screening at TIFF, it was released in theaters on November 17th, 2017 before expanding in the following weeks. Grossing nearly 4 times its $10 million budget, the film also garnered universal praise from critics, at one point becoming the highest-rated movie of all time on Rotten Tomatoes. (Until one critic decided to become a troll) The directorial debut of writer and actress Greta Gerwig, Christine McPherson is an angst-ridden senior student in high school who prefers to go by the name “Lady Bird.” Fed up with her confined life in Sacramento, California, she begins applying to colleges out of state, specifically anywhere on the East Coast. As she navigates the 2002-03 school year, everything she thought she knew comes into question as her relationship with her parents are strained and friendships are lost and born. I’m not very familiar with Greta Gerwig’s work, and the few films I’ve seen with her involved can range from being side-splittingly hilarious to boring for me. But one thing I’ve never doubted is that she was able to craft stories about strong women in the modern era; for Millenials by a Millenial. And so I wasn’t really sure what to expect from her directorial debut. Though the extremely positive reaction out of its festival run was encouraging, I was largely scared that it wouldn’t really live up to all of its massive hype. Spoiler Alert: It absolutely does. Which is odd because from the synopsis I just gave you, it might just seem like any other coming-of-age story that Hollywood has put out. You’d be forgiven for thinking so because while the narrative is rather simplistic, Gerwig uses this simplicity to flesh out each individual into a tangible human being. The Math teacher is not just simply a Math teacher, and Christine’s best friend is much more than a lovable sidekick. The director even goes as far as making several scenes grounded in reality, with the characters never afraid to share their true feelings. If family members and friends duking it out with words legitimately stresses you out, then maybe Lady Bird is not for you. But for those looking for a break from the more ditsy, idealistic coming-of-age movies, this one is definitely worth checking out. When I saw Saoirse Ronan’s break-out performance in 2015’s Brooklyn, I immediately knew that she was a new talent worth looking out for. And with her role as the titular character, she has further proven my point; she’s a challenging young woman who REALLY hates Sacramento yet still finds a channel of empathy from the audience. The supporting cast is filled out by great performances by Tracy Letts, Timothee Chalamet, Jordan Rodrigues, Lucas Hedges, Lois Smith, and Stephen McKinley Henderson, who all contribute a unique aspect to the film. But the one woman who can stand up to Ronan is Laurie Metcalf as her mother, Marion. The scenes where the two of them fight back and forth bordered on difficult-to-watch, as she is trying to let her daughter know the realities of our world. She didn’t even seem like she was acting; she was just being. And from a filmmaking standpoint, Greta Gerwig proves she also has great prowess behind the camera. Sam Levy warps the color corrected cinematography to look and feel like a teenage memory. Nothing really flashy, just a realistic style that captures the crazy zeitgeist of the early 2000’s. Christine’s dyed red hair is particularly highlighted as it is indicative of a phase every high school girl goes through; they think they’re being rebellious when they’re really just acting like everyone else around them. The feeling of memory permeates to the editing by Nick Huoy. Some sequences are cut up in little fractures, relying on the audience to build through context. As many moments in our lives are only remembered in bits and pieces, this worked immensely well. Composer Jon Brion puts his multi-instrumental talents to the test with the surprisingly warm-hearted film score. In a word, the soundtrack is just “delightful” as the main title track consists of buoyant strumming guitars, drum set, and low brass. Brion refuses to become saccharine and instead highlights the colorful personality of the titular character while remaining friendly and relatable. And the smaller piano melodies hit right to the emotional truth of each hard moment without ever feeling the need for manipulation. In other words, it’s the perfect film score for Lady Bird. But the truest thing that this movie has to offer is its hilarious yet real depiction of leaving home. Most coming-of-age stories focusing on the female perspective that I’ve seen tend to revolve around a young girl’s relationship with a boy or first love. There are boyfriends for Christine, but they’re more like road stops. Rather, this film showcases the relationship between a mother and her daughter who really doesn’t know what she wants in life. We’ve all struggled with filling out college applications or fought about what we can or can’t afford for the future. And sometimes, no matter how hard you try, your future is just not going to align with even your closest friends. That makes this arguably the perfect film for Millennials and Z-Gen kids to watch. Lady Bird presents a brutally honest story on the last days of innocence. It may not necessarily be the most original movie in the coming-of-age drama, but it’s probably the most humane. With a stellar cast, fantastic dialogue, and great timing from all, this movie reveals Greta Gerwig as a real filmmaking talent. With enough time, she might just become a master.

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1 thought on ““Lady Bird” Movie Review

  1. Pingback: Retrospective: The Best Films of 2017 | Geek's Landing

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