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Hello and welcome to the movie blog of author John DeFrank - FilmZ and Guy Sobriquet Malone - Researcher

Lady Bird


Lady Bird Review by FilmZ

As much as we like Laurie Metcalf and Lucas Hedges, and as much as we love Saoirse Ronan, we had reservations about Lady Bird.  The coming-of-age movie seemed to have epic twee potential, hardly the stuff to attract the likes of Guy S. Malone, Researcher; Dude of the Serf; Captain HE; and your humble servant, FilmZ.  Still, we are nothing if not open-minded, and based on its rave receptions at the Telluride and Toronto festivals, we decided to give it a shot.  Upshot: we are men enough to admit writer-director Greta Gerwig keeps her autobiographical baby twee free.   Neither quaint nor sentimental, Gerwig uses snappy, snarky quick-cut scenes to whisk us along through Lady Bird's (Ronan) momentous senior year in high school and the culmination of a stormy relationship with her judgmental, overworked, and stressed-out mother, Marion (Metcalf).

It is Sacramento, "the Midwest of California," in 2002: Christine McPherson, who prefers her "given" name, "Lady Bird" ("... given to me, by me") is an odd duck, a misfit who revels in her uniqueness even as she longs to be one of the cool kids at her Catholic high school.  Lady Bird and her best friend, Julie (Beanie Feldstein), plan their self-actualization as they snack on Communion wafers, a juxtaposition of the normal and the absurd that provides much of the film's humor and endearment.  Their quest takes them to the drama club, where Lady Bird meets Danny, a sweet soul.  But the transience of youth leads her to Kyle (Timothée Chalamet), a guitar-playing nouveau-Kerouac and a new best-friend--wealthy, popular Jenna (Odeya Rush).  Gerwig remembers well the ups and downs, fits and starts, and the Icarian flights to the sun where wings scorch and aspirants plummet to earth.

At Lady Bird's side throughout is her doting father (Tracy Letts), who hides his career downturns from her even as he becomes both confidant and buffer between her and her mother.  Central to the story, though, is the relationship between Lady Bird and Marion McPherson, and it is what makes the film transcendent.  The mother-daughter complexity: each elicits both empathy and ire, each is right and wrong, each knows the other well but at the same time lacks understanding.  And the perfect match of actor to role as achieved with Saoirse Ronan and Laurie Metcalf.  It is that relationship that bookends the film and drives it, even at those times when it is only in the back of our minds.

Lady Bird is a triumph for Greta Gerwig in her first film as sole director, a labor of love put forth without a false step.  It is a comedy-drama that allows us to relate to the characters as real people living within the artifices of high school and to remember the intense love-hate between a parent and a child striving for independence.  The film should garner a Best Picture nomination and Saoirse Ronan could end up as the frontrunner for Best Actress.  The 23-year old has a gift for timing that wrings out the power, humor, and truth from every beautifully-written line.  Which brings us to the third probable nomination: Original Screenplay.  Laurie Metcalf has the role of a lifetime, and it could lead to a Supporting Actress nomination.  And finally, if there is any justice Greta Gerwig will earn recognition as Director.

9.0 out of 10 - Entertainment Scale (Dude and Capt. HE declared it their favorite film so far this year)
9.0 out of 10 - Awards Scale

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