Saturday, March 24, 2018

Stubs - Lady Bird

Lady Bird (2014) Starring: Saoirse Ronan, Laurie Metcalf, Tracy Letts, Lucas Hedges, Timothée Chalamet, Beanie Feldstein, Stephen McKinley Henderson, Lois Smith Directed by Greta Gerwig. Screenplay by Greta Gerwig. Produced by Scott Rudin, Eli Bush, Evelyn O'Neill. Runtime 94 minutes. USA Color Drama, Comedy, Coming-of-age

Growing up is never easy and practically every teenager thinks they’re somehow being held back from reaching their potential by location, by their school, by their parents and even by their friends. High school senior Christine "Lady Bird" McPherson (Saoirse Ronan) feels trapped by all of those things.

While she has a love for Sacramento, California, where she has been raised, she yearns to go somewhere more inviting to her aspirations, which are never fully defined. She chafes at her Catholic high school to which her parents have sent her, despite not having all that much money, to save her from the dangers of public schools.

Much of the focus of Lady Bird is the relationship between mother (Laurie Metcalf) R and daughter (Saoirse Ronan) L.

Lady Bird, a name she calls herself as a way of being her own person, has an on-again-off-again relationship with her mother Marion (Laurie Metcalf), a full-time nurse. Like many teenage daughters, there is a love-hate relationship between her and her mother. Her mother may want Lady Bird to be the best version of herself that she can be, but Lady Bird asks what if this is the best version of herself.

Her relationship with her father, Larry (Tracy Letts), is much easier as he never seems to deal with issues the way her mother does. Larry, who loses his job, tries too hard to be her friend rather than be her father. But he does encourage her in a different way than her mother, allowing Lady Bird to apply for out-of-state colleges, something her mother is vehemently against.

Real friends are hard to find and for awhile Lady Bird jettisons her best friend, Julianne "Julie" Steffans (Beanie Feldstein), for Jenna Walton (Odeya Rush), a wealthier and more popular girl at school. There are also love interests, Danny O'Neill (Lucas Hedges) and Kyle Scheible (Timothée Chalamet), neither of whom turn out to be all that rewarding though both are memorable. Eventually, Lady Bird realizes that true friendship means something to her and she smartly reconnects with Julianne. But when school is out, they end up going their separate ways.

Lady Bird has two love interests during the film, one of which is  Kyle Scheible (Timothée Chalamet).

Written and directed by Greta Gerwig, an actress turned director, and a native of Sacramento, you have to wonder how much of her life we’re actually seeing played out on the screen. You know the maxim is to write what you know. You feel a little like you’ve been placed in the middle of an on-going story. Lady Bird’s journey takes a while to get going and it feels like we’re leaving her just when it seems to be getting really interesting. There is nothing like waking up in a strange town in a strange bed to help readjust yourself.

While we learn a lot about Lady Bird’s relationship with her mother, her brother Miguel (Jordan Rodrigues) is never really dealt with. Is he adopted? Is he the child from a first marriage? While it’s not really very important to the plot, it does leave you with a lot of questions, since he is a constant presence through much of her senior year.

The acting, for the most part, is really good and three actors stood out for me. Saoirse Ronan never seems to be flat in any of her films, as recognized by her three acting nominations: Nominated for Best Supporting Actress for Atonement (2008) and Best Actress Nominations for Brooklyn (2016) and this film.

It's a battle of wills between mother and daughter.

Laurie Metcalf is truly a national treasure and seems to excel at whatever role she’s given, from Sheldon’s Mom in The Big Bang Theory, Rosanne’s sister in the Rosanne shows or playing a complex mother figure in this film. Strong-willed, she still loves her daughter and despite it all, makes a lasting impression on her. She always seems believable in her roles whether playing them for laughs or tears.

Tracy Letts has a much smaller role as Lady Bird’s father, but he’s really good in the role. He seems a little old for me in the part, but he comes across as a weak but loving man. His chief role in the family seems to be mitigatory between mother and daughter, something he does with a deft political touch.

I will say that the film was quite enjoyable to watch. Even the funny bits that I had already been exposed to were still funny and that’s sort of hard to do these days with previews and trailers being so readily available. I would also recommend this film to anyone of a certain age trying to figure out where they fit in the world. Lady Bird’s journey, while unique to her, does have some universal truths. You must always stay truthful to yourself being one of them.

1 comment:

  1. One of those deep, quirky, thoughtful, intelligent, fun, independent, irreverent, revealing films that many Amazon Prime viewers can't understand, because they prefer shallow, meaningless, feckless entertainment drivel.
    This film is a learning experience and in its own clever way deals with capitalism, love of place, forgiveness, class envy, and more.
    I feel sincere pity for anyone who wasn't enlightened and moved by this heartwarming film.
    If you didn't like Ladybird, it's your loss!