Feb 23, 2018

[Movies] Lady Bird (2017) Review

I didn't know what to expect from Lady Bird, as is often the case during the big awards season and suddenly unfamiliar titles appear in news articles and whatnot. And thus we get movies we never heard of now being the center of attention and you can't help but be curious as to what the fuss is about.

So here we go.

Lady Bird has that same slice of life sort of perspective that we've seen in movies like Boyhood, but not quite on the same scale. It's not quite as "pleasant" as an experience, at least for the early years, as the protagonist is a bit more jaded in life. But that doesn't make the story any less impactful.

It's not an easy movie to watch and part of me appreciates the very organic feel to the narrative but another part of me wanted more of a traditional story structure as well. Somewhere in the middle would have been a movie that would have made more sense to me - maybe.

Synopsis: Lady Bird is a 2017 American comedy drama movie written and directed by Greta Gerwig. The movie has received numerous nominations and has at least won the Golden Globe for Best Motion Picture - Musical or Comedy.

"Lady Bird" is the nickname that Christine McPherson (Saoirse Ronan) has chosen for herself and she's a senior student at a Catholic high school as of the start of the movie. She's hoping to get into a better college most likely out of state but the economic realities aren't working in her favor. Still, she's sent out her applications with her mother (Laurie Metcalf) none the wiser.

Her desire to study elsewhere is in pursuit of furthering her theater / artistic ambitions and she and her best friend Julie (Beanie Feldstein ) sign up for the school theater program. There she meets Danny (Lucas Hedges), who also signs up for the theater program and the two soon hit it off as friends and eventually something else. But that's where Lady Bird's adventures for this movie begin for real.

What I Liked: Saoirse Ronan is an interesting actress and her performance in this movie was quite striking. She's not a likeable character by design but she does more than just lash out irrationally as a stereotypical teenager. There is still some of that, and that's essential to the character, but it's also not limited to that, which is kind of hard to pull off. It's a thoughtful portrayal and it's something interesting to unpack. At times you will hate what her character is doing but also understand why she's doing it and it works out great.

It goes without saying that Laurie Metcalf was pretty brilliant as Lady Bird's mother. I think everyone agrees on this point by now.

The role of her father, Larry (Maurie Metcalf), is another subtle performance that I oddly appreciated. It's theoretically easy to be the "cooler" dad who listens more since it means you just have to have a respectiful and open on-screen presence. But he came across to me as someone a lot more "there" and somehow more meaningful. It's hard to explain but it just struck me that way.

What Could Have Been Better: I get the sort of slice of life view that most of this movie takes and I can appreciate that. But part of me wanted Lady Bird's colorful experiences to sort of lead somewhere - a sort of conclusion or acknowledgement of her need to grow. Yes it ends with the long message for her mother and that is a key moment but it somehow felt a little insufficient? Or like she hadn't quite earned full redemption / growth yet given all that had happened? Maybe it's just me.

The pacing can feel a little disjoint at times or a little slow even, but that's all part of the very organic feel to things. It doesn't feel like a well-structured movie because life isn't like a well-structured movie and so the experience is quite different.

TL;DR: Lady Bird is a lot to unpack and is a movie that requires a lot more thought than your average piece. It can seem unexceptional in how it largely depicts real-life adolence but that way it also becomes quite exceptional in how well it presents this. Thus the movie gets 4 reckless actions by Lady Bird out of a possible 5.

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