Movies

Lady Bird: A Love Letter to Growing Up

2017 | 1 hour 33 minutes | Dir. Greta Gerwig | A24

“You really love Sacramento.”
“I just pay attention.”
“Don’t you think they are the same?  Attention and love?”

Greta Gerwig writes and directs the story of senior year in Lady Bird, a delightful coming- of- age comedy.

Saoirse Ronan plays Christine “Lady Bird” McPherson, a Sacramento girl from the “wrong side of the tracks” who dreams of college in New York City.  Her tough love mother works as a nurse, her dad gets laid off, and her brother and his girlfriend bag groceries despite Berkley degrees.  Lady Bird goes to a  Catholic high school because, as her mother says, “your brother saw someone get knifed in front of him at the public high school” (“he barely saw that!” she retorts).  She has an adorable best friend Julie, played by the plump and perfect Beanie Feldstein.  Lady Bird goes through all the Greatest Hits of High School- school play, prom, first love, first sex, trying to impress the popular kids, fighting with her mom, empathizing with her dad, and becoming her own person.

Lady Bird has the punky charm of coming- of- age gems like Saved! and Juno.  It might draw comparisons to last year’s Edge of Seventeen, but that troubled teen was an almost unforgivably terrible person.  Lady Bird has requisite teenage brattiness, but her humble home life and decided individualism make her endearing.  She’s a joy weather she’s crying on a shoulder or providing a shoulder to cry on.

Writer/ director Gerwig says Lady Bird is semi-autobiographical.  If you’ve seen Gerwig act, you can catch traces of her speech and mannerisms in Ronan’s performance. Ronan does a beautiful job playing Lady Bird, but I couldn’t help but wish Gerwig looked young enough to pull off the teen girl act.  I love that woman. 

I also appreciated the positive spin on religion.  Lady Bird uses Catholic school as a setting, not a punch line, and the nuns and brothers represent real, flawed humans, not caricatures or social commentaries.  In a world full of scandals, atheists and  Spotlight, it’s nice to see church as A Nice Place.

Lady Bird has a touch of Wes Anderson whimsy.  If you love quirky characters, sharp timing, witty dialogue, pastels and symmetry, you will love Lady Bird.  But even if you do not love those things, you will love Lady Bird.  And that’s all Lady Bird really wants: someone to love her.

See this with someone you grew up with.

 

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