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FLICKS: Lady Bird

Posted on 14 December 2017 by LeslieM

By “Cinema” Dave


Tis awards season in the motion picture world, a time when Hollywood will release serious flicks about important life themes. Oscar and Golden Globes often acknowledge small-budgeted independent films like Breaking Away and Brooklyn, produced by a new generation of young talent both behind and in front of the camera. Breaking Away started Dennis Quaid’s four-decade career while Brooklyn introduced Saoirse Ronan as a future competitor to Meryl Streep.

Whereas Ronan gave a mature performance with a strong transitional arc, she is unrecognizably bland in Lady Bird. Actors often portray older characters with ease, but it is virtually impossible to perform the reverse. If one did not see Brooklyn, one would think the actress portraying Lady Bird is simply another bratty actress. Ronan does the impossible.

Actually Lady Bird is Christine McPherson’s (Ronan) self-given nickname. She is a senior going to Catholic High School. Despite being a rebel without a clue, Lady Bird shares her confidences with Julie (Beanie Feldstein). The two students share the same jokes with each other about hallway gossip, the drama club and family matters.

Lady Bird does have an antagonistic relationship with her mother, Marion (Laurie Metcalf), who works two shifts a day at a psychic hospital because her husband (writer – Tracy Letts) is unemployed. Feeling constrained by living in California, Lady Bird wishes for a more exotic life on the east coast, preferably a university in New York. This, of course, raises a bigger rift between daughter and mother.

As Blackboard Jungle was a film to be remembered for high school students in the 1950s, with Dead Poets Society marking the rites of passage for high school students in the late 1980s, Lady Bird may always be remembered by the 2018 graduates. The story is simple, but the theme is universal.

Introduced to the independent film circles with the release of Francis Ha five years ago, writer/director Greta Gerwig stays behind the camera with Lady Bird. Both films detail a self-centered female protagonist’s growth and maturity, yet with much humor.

Besides Saoirse Ronin’s fine performance, Laurie Metcalf also shines as the mother. With Gerwig’s succinct script, Metcalf creates a character who is deeply suffering, but with stubborn strength that keeps the family together with a roof over their head.

Lady Bird is a winner, which has already been given a Golden Globes nomination as Best Motion Picture — Musical or Comedy and Best Screenplay. Saoirse Ronin and Laurie Metcalf have also been nominated as Best Actress and Supporting Actress, respectively.

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