365 Movies By Day Reviews of Movies I Watch that I Feel Like Writing About

2Feb/180

Lady Bird (2017)

I think if you told someone that Saoirse Ronan (The Grand Budapest Hotel, The Lovely Bones), the actress who won audiences over with her innocent portrayal of a conflicted young Irish immigrant navigating her way through 1950s New York City in 2015's fabulous Brooklyn (which earned her a Best Actress Nomination) is the same person playing the lead role two years later in Greta Gerwig's Lady Bird, they'd look at you funny before looking at pictures of her from both movies, recalling scenes from each, and then of kind of nodding their heads and saying, "Yeah, I guess that is the same actress." While a movie I didn't really resonate with and definitely near the bottom of the Best Picture nominees in the lackluster 2017, I did appreciate her performance...one that was just as honest and true as the one she gave in Brooklyn. And similarly to 2015, her work in this movie is likely the third or fourth best of the year and landed Ronan her second Academy Award nomination.

Lady Bird is the name that 17-year-old Christine McPherson (Ronan) gives herself. She's a senior at a Catholic school. The first of the movie shows her and her mother Marion (Laurie Metcalf - Leaving Las Vegas, Uncle Buck) returning from a road trip of visiting colleges in nearby Sacremento, California. Little does Marion know that Lady Bird (who I'm going to call Christine for the remainder of this review just to differentiate it from the title) has plans to get as far away from home as possible. The movie follows Christine from this road trip all the way up to her first couple of days at college, it's clear that she's going through a bit of an identity crisis...or maybe she's just going through experiences that all 17-year-olds experience in some fashion. Sure she's a bit more eccentric than many of her peers, but all of us have our own coming of age story at some point in our lives. This is Christine's, a heartfelt one that perfectly captures both the pleasant and painful transition from adolescence to young adulthood. Ther aren't many directors out there who earn Academy Award nominations in their debuts, but Gerwig's packs so many heartfelt emotions into a story that we've seen dozens of times in film, but one that still feels original and genuine as she portrays to us a snapshot of the vulnerability, fervor, humiliation, and real life lessons of being a high school senior. So in a way, I appreciate very much what Gerwig set out to do in this movie and the actors who gave life to its characters that fulfilled her vision. At the same time, this movie isn't a movie that, despite its 99% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes, everyone is going to love. I was one of those people that did not love it.

A lot happens really quickly in this movie. At the same time, it doesn't feel rushed. The timeframe is 2002. The movie is supposed to be a semi-biographical story of Gerwig's life. We know that her relationship with her mother is terse. The two are more alike than Christine is willing to admit and the two clash quite frequently. Christine doesn't have the greatest grades in the world. And her dreams of getting into a prestigious school on the east coast are a bit of a reach at best. This is coupled with the fact that her family has not saved a lot of money. Her father Larry (Tracy Letts - The Post, Christine) has recently lost his job, forcing Marion to work double shifts at work. Christine's relationship with her father is much more loving than the one with her mother. But what is never in question is how much she is loved by her parents.

Like many high school seniors, Christine has ups and downs with her social relationships. Her best friend Julie (Beanie Feldstein - Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising) is with her through thick and thin. But, like so many, she starts hanging out with a new friend who isn't necessarily the best for her and that puts a strain on her friendship with Julie. Christine also has romantic relationships with a couple different boys over the course of the movie in the form of Danny (Lucas Hedges - Moonrise Kingdom, Manchester by the Sea) and Timothée Chalamet (Call Me By Your Name, Interstellar). And just like with many young relationships (and relationships in general), there is often more than meets the eye with these two men. I won't say any else other than we are all shaped by the experiences in our lives, both good and bad. And sometimes these experiences we are able to brush off and sometimes these experiences stay with us for the remainder of our lives. We are certainly more impressionable at certain parts of our lives and I think being a 17-year-old is one of those times where we feel so insecure and frightened by our future that we want things to go in our favor. We want the truths that we believe to be truths to actually be truths. And, when some of these are not, we are forced to adapt. This can harden us or make us more protective of our feelings, or less trusting. We all go through it. So it's great when we have those rocks in our lives. And the case of Christine it is Julie.

But Christine isn't a person searching for the mundane. Like many dreamers, she's searching for something more. She's wondering if her past work habits will hamper her ability to explore the future she wants to live. If nothing else, could it delay it? Christine is not in a state of crisis. She knows she's going to school. She just wants her path to follow a different trajectory than what her family hopes for. And being a young person, she's not completely independent enough to rely solely on herself. It's definitely a coming of age story with some twists along the way that offers a certain uniqueness that I appreciate. I just wasn't a fan of its quirkiness and it wasn't a movie that stuck with me when I left the theaters in the same way that 2017 movies like The Shape of Water, Call Me By Your Name, Life, Wind River, I, Tonya, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri did.

Plot 7.5/10
Character Development 7/10
Character Chemistry 7/10
Acting 8.5/10
Screenplay 7.5/10
Directing 8/10
Cinematography 7.5/10
Sound 7.5/10
Hook and Reel 7.5/10
Universal Relevance 9/10
77%

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