Movie Review: Lady Bird (2017)

Directed by: Greta Gerwig

Starring: Saoirse Ronan, Laurie Metcalf, Tracy Letts

Rating: A

Recommended?: Yes

Genre: Drama

Watched on: Amazon Instant

Lady Bird (Saoirse Ronan,) a bright-haired iconoclastic with some serious mommy issues, is at that that precarious age between childhood and adulthood where she desperately wants to individuate and break away from the adults around her. Lady Bird’s mother, Marion (Laurie Metcalf,) is a anxious, controlling woman who is constantly stressed out about the family’s money situation, and she and Lady Bird don’t seem to have ever really seen eye-to-eye on most subjects. Their relationship is intense, enmeshed, and sometimes psychologically abusive, and Lady Bird hopes college will be provide a good opportunity to get away from her family once and for all.

Lady Bird is a quiet relationship-based movie, directed by actress Greta Gerwig, and something about it feels very authentic. It’s excellently acted all around, but Laurie Metcalf (a character actress known for recurring roles in sitcoms like Roseanne and The Big Bang Theory) steals the show as Lady Bird’s acerbic mother, who is preoccupied with status and looking like she has more money than she actually has. The scene near the end where she’s crying in the car is absolutely heart-wrenching. It’s no wonder Metcalf got nominated for an Oscar, I haven’t seen I, Tonya yet but Allison Janney must have done some damn fine work to have won over Metcalf’s performance here.

The characters in Lady Bird, including the minor ones, all feel very real. Out of the secondary characters, I was particularly intrigued by the priest, played by Stephen Henderson. The scene where he goes to the psychiatric ward where Lady Bird’s mother works seeking help brought me to tears. I have been in that level of depression before, and it must be hard to be expected to help other people when you don’t feel like you can help yourself. Lady Bird’s script presents us with multidimensional characters and never ignores the complexity of life or of growing up. It’s nice to see that more female directors seem to be making movies lately, and I hope that trend continues.

I wasn’t overly enthusiastic about seeing this movie initially (maybe because of filmmaker Greta Gerwig’s association as an actress with drivel like House of the Devil and Frances Ha, which I know now is an unfair way to judge the quality of a film you haven’t seen) but I ended up loving it. my only criticism was that it ended a little too abruptly for my taste, I’m the type of viewer who doesn’t totally love more sudden or ambiguous endings, and the alcohol poisoning scene was a weird way to end things. I think anybody who enjoys realistic movies about relationships will find something to like about this movie. Every single actor who played in this did a fantastic job, it was just wonderfully written and cast. It’s not a fast-paced film, but it really sucks you into the world it creates and the lives of it’s troubled characters.

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