Friday, June 8, 2018

Movie Review: Lady Bird (2017)

Lady Bird (2017) written and directed by Greta Gerwig

Christine "Lady Bird" McPherson (Saoirse Ronan) is a high school senior who'd rather be anywhere than Sacramento, California, at Immaculate Heart School. Her rebellious streak is rather low-key, with only occasional flashes that get her into trouble. She wants to be more cultured (her great ambition is to go to college in New York City, or at least the East Coast) and have a special life. Her parents struggle financially, putting her literally on the wrong side of the tracks in a city that isn't even special (at least according to Lady Bird) in the first place. She looks for better things and self-expression without realizing she hasn't figured out what's best in life or who she wants to be. A lot of people in her life want to help her but she isn't wise enough to see who really has her best interest at heart.

Ronan is great as Lady Bird. She captures the confusion and self-confidence and self-consciousness and unawareness that teenagers have. She wants to be an adult but doesn't have the experience to behave like one. Laurie Metcalf plays her mom and also gives a fine performance as a loving parent who tries to be supportive and directive but isn't great at balancing the two. The rest of the cast does a great job, partly due to how well even minor characters are written. Each character seems like a real person and each is distinct. Their interactions are believable and move the story along.

It's nice to see the Catholic school depicted as a supportive, normal environment, even if underappreciated by both Lady Bird (who is rebellious) and her mom (who is horrified by the stabbing her older son witnessed at the public high school). The staff are recognizable priests and nuns who are also recognizably human.

Recommended, though not for kids since it's pretty firmly in the R-rated camp with its frank discussions of sex and one no-nudity bedroom scene (and some f-bombs too).

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