Lady Bird

Not to be confused with the 1960s First Lady

F or today’s movie, the part of “Greta Gerwig” will be played by Saoirse Ronan. While this film isn’t technically a biography, writer/director Gerwig –a current NYC Indie icon and semi-recent Barnard graduate hailing from Sacramento– made a film about a headstrong teenage girl insistent on busting out of Sacramento immediately post 9/11 and going to college in New York City. You do the math.

Clearly, I haven’t given Sacramento enough credit. I’ve never thought much of the state capital and had immediate sympathy for our heroine’s plight of being stuck there. After all, I’ve been to Sacramento several times in my life and the only thing I ever considered upon visiting was, “How soon until we can leave?” But any city than can produce a Greta Gerwig can’t be all bad, y’know?

I think Christine (Ronan) gave herself the name “Lady Bird” before her mom insisted on the new Catholic high school. Take it from me, if there’s one thing Catholic schools LOVE it’s when students speak up about wanting to be called something other than a birth certificate name. Nuns eat that up! Her biggest problems are mom, Sacramento and money, in that order. She also wants to get laid, but that seems a sub-issue. Eyes on the prize, Lady Bird. You’ve got to fly; escape that cage.

There’s desperation to Lady Bird’s countenance that is neither attractive nor useful.  It is, however, entirely realistic along with her awful dye job and sallow skin. How, film, did you manage to make Saoirse Ronan look average? Ah, movie magic. Lady Bird’s attitude is the driving force behind the picture; I’m sure Saoirse and Greta had a lot of long talks about scene motivation. Our heroine is clever, yet constantly undermined by either herself or her mother (Laurie Metcalf). For all of her desperation to leave Sacramento and mom, she has a curious rebellion streak that teens will approve and parents will recognize as 100% counter-productive – sure, babe, toss your life away on that boy in the band, sass the head nun, forget about your math grades, shun that one friend who would otherwise always stick by you. It’s only your life. What did you want to leave Sacramento for, anyway?

If Lady Bird the film didn’t feel like Fast Times at St. Francis High (i.e. entertaining but plotless), this might be a top 10 film for me in 2017. I don’t think Greta was kind to mom at all, yet mom’s attitude is neither unsympathetic nor unrealistic. How do you support the child you love but don’t like? Similarly, Lady Bird herself is among the most complex and complete female roles of the past two years. Honestly, I think it’s hard not to like this film, especially for those of us with either tough love or Catholic backgrounds.

Would you believe that LBJ is making the rounds in theaters nationwide at the exact same time as Lady Bird? That’s weird. It would be like if W. were still out in theaters playing alongside a film entitled Laura Bush, a film not about the former First Lady, but a porn star looking for something better.

Christine’s quest for departing begins
And her mother ain’t exactly all grins
Her Bird cage, a life curse?
It could have been worse
After all, mom could have had twins

Rated R, 94 Minutes
Director: Greta Gerwig
Writer: Greta Gerwig
Genre: The pain of Sacramento
Type of being most likely to enjoy this film: Greta Gerwig
Type of being least likely to enjoy this film: Greta Gerwig’s mom

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One Response to “Lady Bird” Subscribe

  1. A2 December 2, 2017 at 7:33 pm #

    That last paragraph is gold

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